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Freddy Cole’s flawless show wraps up jazz fest on Jaraseom

He hates to be called “the brother of Nat King Cole” but his show on Monday showed once again that the Cole family knows how to play jazz.

Freddy Cole’s raspy, elegant but articulate vocals instantly stopped the audience from wandering around in search of food and drinks at the outdoor stage during the last day of the three-day Jarasum International Jazz Festival, which took place on Jaraseom in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province.

Freddy Cole Quartet began with popular song “Just the Way You Are.” After a short, “Thank you,” he went on to perform several more romantic songs such as “Funny (Not Much),” and “It’s Crazy (But I’m In Love).”

Cole’s piano playing looked so easy and natural that his performance looked effortless, even in the cold weather. The harmony with guitar, drums and bass was flawless.

Cole’s fantastic finale at the nation’s largest jazz festival caused one woman to say to her friends, “If we had left early, we would’ve really regretted it.”
Freddy Cole Quartet, with Freddy Cole on vocals and piano, performs at the Jarasum International Jazz Festival on Monday evening. (Jarasum International Jazz Festival)
Freddy Cole Quartet, with Freddy Cole on vocals and piano, performs at the Jarasum International Jazz Festival on Monday evening. (Jarasum International Jazz Festival)

The island’s evening cold was the biggest challenge to enjoying the jazz. A number of people left just before Freddy Cole Quartet’s show, which began at 9 p.m.

Before Cole’s performance, the festival organizer awarded winners of the final jazz music competition for which four musicians performed for 40 minutes each at the Jazz Palette stage earlier in the day.

Female vocalist Lee Ju-mi won the grand prize of 10 million won ($8,390). She was also awarded the privilege of hosting the opening concert for the 9th Jarasum International Jazz Festival in 2012.

Pianist Lee Myung-gun won two awards ― for best soloist and the jury’s special award ― while pianist Lee Seon-ji won the best creativity award.

Dhafer Youssef Quartet, led by Tunisian vocalist Dhafer Youssef, showcased the exotic sounds of Middle Eastern string instrument, the oud, harmonizing with bass, drums and piano.

“Gamsahamnida (Thank you). Freezing? We’re going to go down a little bit, fly high and come back to the ground,” Yousself shouted.

His unique singing style was remarkable. He covered his nose with his left hand to reach really high notes, somehow sounding like the “haegeum,” a traditional Korean string instrument played with a bow.

Saxophonist Eli Degibri led his quartet to stage a first performance in Korea, playing old and new compositions. The band’s songs included “Mr. R.C.,” a dedication to the mastery of American jazz double-bassist Ron Carter, with Degibri’s saxophone sounding classy and neat.

During short breaks in between sets, the organizers turned on the “Jarasum Festival Theme Song,” encouraging the audience to follow the dance show on the screen.

The festival was well organized. A total of 188,000 people attended, 2,000 more than last year.

The event venue was only 15 minutes walk from Gapyeong Station, which is about one hour away from Seoul’s Sangbong Station on the subway.

There were many volunteers called “Jara Jigi” who helped the audience find stages, toilets and food areas, and several huge balloon signs made it easier to get around on Jaraseom.

By Kim Yoon-mi (yoonmi@heraldcorp.com)
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