Hilary Kole: The Judy Garland Project

| April 28, 2016

Hilary Kole

The Judy Garland Project

Iridium, NYC, April 26, 2016

Reviewed by Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes

Hilary-Kole-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212Celebration was the byword of the evening as Hilary Kole officially celebrated the release of her new CD, The Judy Garland Project on the Miranda Music label, the 2015 birth of her daughter and, of course, Judy herself, whom Kole has long admired. With the arrangements of songs made famous by Garland, Kole added her own jazzy pizzazz to many of the numbers, including a zesty, zippy opener, “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart.” Also very jazzed up, complete with a skillfully scatting Kole, were “Stompin’ at the Savoy,” “Get Happy,” “Look for the Silver Lining” and a hugely up-tempo “Just in Time.” This latter song showcased the blue-chip talent of her trio: long-time Kole musical director and accompanist John di Martino, bassist Paul Gull, and drummer Aaron Kimmel. Kole is a generous singer, giving her bandmates plenty of time to shine on their own merits. Case in point for all was with another song performed at breakneck tempo, “The Trolley Song.”

Kole is an expressive, energetic and emotive singer with a great range of styles. She did hit a few breaks and flashes of nasal tones, which were fleeting and very few – and perhaps could be attributed to over-enthusiasm – but she aced the ballads “A Cottage for Sale” and “It Never Was You” (for which she accompanied herself, solo, on the piano). She transformed Garland’s original teenage innocence on “You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Want to Do It)” to a slow and sexy number, and added a blues twist to “Come Rain or Come Shine.” Kole loves to sing and it shows. She also loves Judy Garland, and that was apparent in her narrative, which could use serious cutting. Kole has a million-dollar smile, plus she’s engaging, personable and eminently likeable, but honestly, we’d love less chat and more exquisite singing, such as the stunning a cappella rendition of “Embraceable You” and the vocal dexterity apparent in “The Boy Next Door.” If it’s Garland, there has to be “Over the Rainbow,” and so it was sung as the closing number with sublime delicacy – giving proof of Kole’s status as a premier jazz, concert and symphony performer.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, New York City, New York City Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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