Hilary Kole looks and sounds like she’s recovered from her tumultuous career detour. She has a great healthy look in her eye, her vocal demeanor is brighter, and her choice of material is top notch. Ah! Marriage and motherhood!
She tackles the Judy Garland songbook with the simpatico team of John DiMartino/p, Paul Gill/b, Aaron Kimmel/dr and Joel Frahm/ts. Her Broadway-clear voice is akin to Jane Monheit as she weaves in and out between bass and drum while Frahm’s tenor oozes on a fun take of “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart.” Kimmel’s mallets provide a lovely setting for a Kole to gently lope through “You Made Me Love You” and she sounds perfectly regretful with Frahm’s tenor on “A Cottage For Sale.” She turns “I Wish I Were In Love Again” into a story as she brings in the introduction, always a good idea for a song, while DiMartino hits all the right moods as on his intro to “The Boy Next Door. “ Kole does a love duet intro to “It Was Never You” and strings take you to Oz on the closing “Over The Rainbow.” Is she EVER coming to LA?!?
Katherine Farnham takes a more soulful and R&Bish read on her album. The core team of Dan Warner-Akit Thompson/g, Dan Feizli-Roy Vogt/b and Jason Furman-Marcus Finnie/dr rotate amongst themselves as a synth bass grooves along “Chemistry” and a poppish yet thoughtful “My Shoes Are Leaking” Kirk Whalum brings his sax for a cabaret-ish “Star Reacher” and a funky “Round The World In A Jukebox” while Nestor Torres’ flute floats along”Mermaid” and “Eternidad.” Farnham adds some backbeat to a clever read of a standard on “My Funky Valentine” and her voice is rich and strongly confident in each setting.
Susie Arioli has a relaxed alto sound as she works with a full band of Don Thompson/p-vib, Terry Clarke/dr, Neil Swainson/b and Reg Schwager/g and a hip horn section. Arioli saunters through the swinging horns like it’s 12th and Vine on “Evenin’” and the swaying “Those Lonely, Lonely Nights. Thompson’s vibes give some uptown class to the title track and the hip read of “Mean to Me.” Arioli shows her bop chops on the snapping “Me, Myself and I’ while she gets bluesy with Schwager on “Can’t Say No.” Cozy and confident all in one package.