Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hilary Kole: Haunted Heart

Justin Time Records
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 11.05.09
Buy CD: Haunted Heart

Although relatively unknown outside New York City, Hilary Kole is a key performer in regional hotels, lounges and jazz clubs.

She began singing and playing the piano at age 5; at 14, her composing skills garnered a scholarship to the Walden School for Music Composition.

By 17, she had won three National Federation of Music Awards and a Delius Award. She received a scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music for jazz composition, but — after attending a jazz vocal class — made singing her major. During this period, she was house vocalist with the Rainbow Room Orchestra, working six nights a week, five hours a night.

After graduating in 1999, she co-created and starred in the musical production Our Sinatra, at the Algonquin Hotel's famous Oak Room. During the past decade, that production has played thousands of performances Off-Broadway. Oscar Peterson heard her perform at Birdland and, in '06, asked her to record with him.

She was the last vocalist to have that honor.

This is Kole's debut album. The quartet that backs her is headed by guitarist John Pizzarelli, who also produced; supporting artists include pianist Ted Firth, bassist Paul Gill and drummer Mark McLean. Kole is the pianist and arranger on one track — “Blackberry Winter,” an Alec Wilder tune — and she acquits herself nicely.

Her voice is smooth as silk throughout, her pitch perfect, phrasing excellent and — most important, for a singer — she knows how to sell a song. She's as good as any I've heard for a long time, and has a bright future.

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