A great singer is a method actor. Within each song is a role, a character. And what we refer to as interpretation is acting. The caveat of course is, to ring true and be believable, it has to be real. The actor must reach down to the deepest depths and up to the highest heights of her own experience to deliver a performance that completes the electrical/emotional circuit of truth.
Hilary Kole, on this stunningly fresh collection of performances of songs from the well-worn repertoire of Judy Garland, reveals and brings new life to the emotional core of each tune while revealing herself as a consummate interpreter. A goddess, wielding lightning bolts of electricity and emotion that break through the clouds and reach our very souls. While never attempting to imitate Garland, she succeeds in telling Judy’s story — relaying the joy of falling in love, the hope that love will prevail, the heartbreak when love fails. And most importantly, the gathering of the will and desire to pick oneself up again to give it one more try.
Accompanied by pianist John DiMartino, bassist Paul Gill, and drummer Aaron Kimmel, this album cooks. These are swingin' jazz interpretations, loaded with improvisation and solos, like a late-night set in a smoky Village jazz club. The ballads luxuriate you in washes of tone and texture, then wrap you in vocal and instrumental silks and satins.
The song choices are based on Hilary’s successful live performances of the Judy canon, her “Over the Rainbow” tribute concerts held the world over. It was fresh from a series of these performances in Japan that Hilary came to the studio, bringing the energy and vitality of the live concert hall into the studio on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. With the tape machine rolling, Hilary and the boys performed at a remarkable level of focus and concentration; a well-oiled jazz machine of intricate interplay and in-the-moment flourishes that only those well versed in the language of jazz can provide.
And then, finally the icing on the cake: Hilary Kole’s stunning interpretation of the most famous song of all. The signature tune that followed Judy through her whole life, changing meanings constantly from her teen years through her battles with demons of all kinds. The song that was almost cut from its famous movie because it was “too sad”. The song written in 1939, as World War II was brewing in Europe, the Great Depression was in full swing here at home, and storm clouds were gathering. It is from that starting point that Kole sat with pen to paper and began writing her remarkable string quartet arrangement to that remarkable song. In her equally stunning vocal performance, she embodies every measure of despair — yet every measure of hope — the composers intended. It is a show stopper.
This album is the work of a true artist in every sense of the word. It is an honor and privilege to have captured these performances, and to share them with you now.
(Richard Barone, producer)
I would like to thank Kitty Skrobela and Miranda Music for giving me the artistic freedom to explore and find the rhythm for this record. Richard Barone for, well, being a genius! My incredible band mates, John DiMartino, Paul Gill, Aaron Kimmel and Joel Frahm for always making such sweet sounds. Our wonderful string quartet: Christiana Liberis, Juliette Jones, Stephanie Matthews & Reenat Pinchas. Bill Westmoreland for your beautiful eye. Lou and everyone at Eastside Sound, for mixing. And Mixing. And Mixing again. And Roger Lian, the master master. I am honored to record this tribute to one of my idols and favorite singers, Judy Garland.
I was lucky enough to record this album while pregnant with my darling daughter, Olivia Aberdeen Hoeppner. She was born on June 30th, 2015 and this album is dedicated to her and to her father, Michael Chad Hoeppner. Zing! Went the strings of my heart!
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