In the 70s, Madison Avenue proclaimed, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” We say, when his great-grandson Cole Rumbough sings, they listen as well. A cabaret/jazz singer reinterpreting the American Songbook for a new generation, Cole will return every Sunday in July, to Osteria Salina (108 Wainscott Stone Road, Wainscott), for three sets nightly, from 8 to 11 p.m. He’ll also headline “Swingin’ in the Hamptons” with Molly Ryan, on Tuesday, July 14th, at 8 p.m. at Guild Hall’s Dina Merrill Pavillion (158 Main Street, East Hampton, 631-324-0806, www.guildhall.org). The venue has a special meaning for Cole, as Merrill is his grandmother.
When it comes to recreating the dash and glamour of yesteryear, Rumbough need only look through family albums. His grandfather, Stan Rumbough Jr., hails from the Colgate (toothpaste) dynasty and Merrill from the Post (cereal) clan. Performing is also in his blood. Merrill defied family tradition and 50s expectations to become a famous actress. His maternal grandfather conducted two symphony orchestras. His aunt is a violinist; uncle, a cellist; and his great-grandmother sang opera. “But,” he said. “I’m the first Jazz singer.”
“I love jazz so much because it resembles the feeling of being in love,” Cole continued. “The romance of the strings, the attitude and the sexiness of the big band. It really is America’s classical music. Maybe it’s a chemical reaction, but I just want to feel that way all the time.” And, spread that feeling to the couples in his audience. “This music is not really on young people’s radar,” he muses. “Only Michael Buble is bringing it back to my generation. I want to help with that campaign.”
That campaign encompassed a regular gig at Le Cirque last year. He’s also performed at The International Red Cross Ball at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Room, and here in the Hamptons at Pierre’s, and the Rams Head Inn on Shelter Island. His first album, “Pour L’Amour du Chocolat,” named for a song he wrote, debuts in the fall.
The song that never fails to move him is the one his grandfather penned for wife Dina, “If I could Live Again.” “It was a rainy weekend in the Adirondacks and they were bored,” Cole recounted. “He wrote the lyrics, another friend wrote the music. Vic Damone somehow got a hold of it and recorded a demo. But, it was never released because his agent Mitch Miller wanted $10,000 under the table. My grandfather and his friend felt that wasn’t right. The record was left in the attic.”
Now it’s part of the rich heritage Rumbough brings to the jazz club table.