Concert for the Holidays:
A Few of My Favorite Things
Iridium, NYC, December 9, 2016
Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes
Still looking young and beautiful, Hilary Kole has been in the top tier of female jazz singers for more than 15 years. Her holiday show at Iridium was a nice mix of holiday songs, could-be holiday songs and some of her favorite songs. As a true jazz vocalist, every number, no matter how familiar, receives Kole’s very special treatment. Her demeanor on stage is relaxed and creates a very enjoyable atmosphere. Kole is backed by a remarkable jazz trio featuring pianist Adam Birnbaum, bassist Paul Gill and drummer Aaron Kimmel. Each of these fine musicians is given ample opportunities in solos to show off his talents.
Kole opened with an upbeat, jazzy “Get Happy” in which she showed her great range and marvelous ability to scat. She then announced that given the type of year that we have been through, all her numbers would be happy songs. She followed with one that she had learned working with jazz great Oscar Peterson, “Love You Madly.” Kole jokingly remarked that she would do a new song (for her) before performing a very slow and romantic “And I Love Him” (“And I Love Her” written by Paul McCartney). Kole moved gracefully on stage and scatted through “Cheek to Cheek.” Claiming she knows very few holiday songs, she chose one that she knew well from her Judy Garland tribute shows: showing remarkable breath control on “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” When she sang “It’s such a charming smile” from “It’s All Right with Me,” she indeed had an oh-so-charming smile. With just Birnbaum backing her, her facial expressions helped tell the story of “The Folks Who Live on the Hill.” Kole replaced Birnbaum on piano for two numbers: her “could-be holiday song” “My Favorite Things,” and her one dark song, Joni Mitchell’s sad “River.” Back on stage, she closed with “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”