Old Things Are New Again with Cole Rumbough

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By Gunjan Sewhani

Gunjan from Resident Magazine sat down for a chat with Cole Rumbough: up-and-coming jazz and cabaret singer. We absolutely loved hearing his story!

Resident: Could you tell us a little about your work?

Rumbough: I love to sing the Great American Songbook. That means Cole Porter, Gershwin, Rodgers & Hart, Sammy Cahn & Jimmy Van Heusen, Irving Berlin, etc. I like traditional big band and swing. The style I love is cabaret, which is a very specific niche—a cross between jazz and Broadway, because many of the songs these composers wrote were originally written for shows and they can be a bit too much on the theatrical side. I love performing love songs in an intimate room and making that couple in the far, dark corner of the room fall more in love with each other than they already were.

Resident: That’s beautiful. So do you consider yourself a romantic?

Rumbough: Yes, I definitely consider myself a romantic. I want every aspect of my life to be romantic. In fact, that’s why I love jazz music so much. To me, it resembles the feeling of being in love.

Resident: What was your most recent performance?

Rumbough: My most recent performance was a more casual, laid back one. I was a guest performer at the Rams Head Inn on Shelter Island, NY on August 11th. I performed with my dear friends, Peter & Jane, who are a husband and wife team on Bass & Piano I play a lot with, in and around the Hamptons. Some friends of ours joined in on drums, saxophone, and trumpet. It was a lot of fun!

Resident: What are some of your musical influences?

Rumbough: My favorites are Ella Fitzgerald, Vic Damone, Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Christine Andreas and Marilyn Maye. But I also love Nat King Cole, Stan Getz, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Doris Day, Judy Garland, Mel Torme, Billie Holiday, & Sarah Vaughan. I could go on forever but I mainly listen to jazz and classical. I enjoy some of the new acoustic singer/songwriter artists as well.

Resident: What has been your favorite performance to date?

Rumbough: My favorite performance of my own was at The International Red Cross Ball at The Breakers in Palm Beach this past February. I sang with the Peter Duchin band and it was a very special opportunity to be able to sing a tribute to my grandmother, Dina Merrill, who was the honoree of the evening. This is my favorite to date, but I have a feeling the best is yet to come!

Resident: Do you have any role models within the music industry? Anyone whose career you really admire?

Rumbough: I really admire Barbra Streisand’s career. She is absolutely amazing. I can relate to her as a perfectionist but I also think her strategy is brilliant. Maybe it’s her strategy or maybe just her stage fright but I think that because she doesn’t perform all that often, tickets to hear her are all the more desirable.

I also love Ella Fitzgerald’s career. I have almost every single one of her albums. I am so grateful that she recorded so much so that we have all of her recorded music to enjoy forever. She recorded over 2,000 songs! And I love almost all of them. With most artists, I am more selective—I like some of their stuff but don’t like others. But with Ella, I can safely say I love just about everything she did. She was consistently amazing throughout her successful career spanning six decades.

Resident: Our readers are local New Yorkers so we must ask—what do you feel makes you a New Yorker?

Rumbough: Well, for starters, I was born in Manhattan on January 16, 1991, at Mount Sinai hospital and lived here for the first few years of my life. Although I grew up spending most of my time between Greenwich and the Hamptons, I always came back into the city for dinners and Broadway shows. Then, I moved back to New York in 2009 to attend The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and I’ve been here since! I love New York! It’s glamorous, exciting—there’s so much to see and do! And there is such great history here! I have so much family history here, too.

My great-great-great-great grandfather, William Colgate, started the Colgate Toothpaste Company on Dutch Street in 1806. He was very involved with a charity called The New York City Mission Society, which my family is still very involved with. My grandmother, Dina Merrill has been on the board since 1946 and my father, photographer Stanley H. Rumbough, since 1983. I just co-founded its first junior board, called “The Junior Society,” making me the 7th generation in my family to be involved. We celebrated its 200th anniversary with a black tie gala at The Pierre on 12/12/12, making it the oldest running charity in Manhattan.
New York history on my other side of the family includes The Woolworth building, the tallest skyscraper in the world at the time, which my great-great-great uncle, F.W. Woolworth built for his five-and-ten-cent empire. Then of course, there’s my great-grandfather, E.F. Hutton’s famous career, which began on Wall Street. With so much family history all around me, I feel like I belong here! With all the jazz clubs in town, what better place for me to live? •

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