The first is from the Midwest Record Entertainment Reviews, News and Views 10/15/16
RICHIE COLE/Plays Ballads & Love Songs: A session that happened by happenstance, most of these tracks are first takes recorded in Cole's recently adopted home of Pittsburgh. What's really of interest here is that 45 years into his career as a hard blowing bopper, this is his first album of ballads and slow songs and it's a doozy. Staunchly backing up his claim that he makes his sax sing, this is a lyrical, lovely album where the slow pace never become tiresome wearing out it's welcome. Loaded with the mark of a pro playing something he really wants to play, this is a boatload of standards with Cole wringing out stuff you never heard in them before. An absolute must hear of an album. Well done, indeed.
The second is from the Buffalo News:
Published October 13, 2016
Richie Cole, "Plays Ballads and Love Songs" (Richie Cole Presents, Available next week)
Say what? "Alto Madness" through bebop is Richie Cole's game, not ballads. You've got to remember that Cole is the first jazz musician to make a plausible jazz version of the theme from "I Love Lucy."
That's why this is a mind-boggling first ballad album by Richie Cole in his 45-year career. It came about this way: Cole and an orchestra had rented a Pittsburgh studio to record a lot of the music for a previously released album but another opportunity for the orchestra musicians came along. So Cole and his rhythm section remained to play whatever they wanted. After eight tunes, they realized they'd been playing ballads. So they went the whole way for a ballad record.
But even there, Cole is in the "alto madness" business whenever possible. Would you believe Johnny Mathis' seldom jazzified "Chances Are?" And "It's Magic?" And, are you ready, a jazz version of "The Internationale" which he plays --no, caresses. By God, it works as a ballad. "I don't play the saxophone, I sing the saxophone" he says, and proves on the best of this. Even when Cole is not the great bebop comedian of the alto saxophone, he'll find a way to give you bebop vaudeville somehow.
3 stars (out of four)