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Holly Cole
T&M 039: 15.00 Euro
"Holly Cole" - 2007

Each of Holly Cole’s studio albums has evolved differently.

This project began with a meeting Cole had last year with producer/arranger/ bassist Greg Cohen in Toronto. After hearing some of the songs Cole was considering, he suggested working with a bigger band than she has used in the past. Not an orchestra or a big band, but a slightly smaller group with less traditional instrumentation. It would be made up of creative individuals & outstanding improvisers who were also capable of real ensemble playing.
“The idea was to push Holly into a new arena,” says Cohen who co-produced with Cole. “To really challenge her”.

Based in New York since the early ‘80s, Los Angeles-born Cohen has written for theater, film and recordings. He has arranged, produced & played bass with a huge range of artists including: David Byrne, David Sanborn, Ornette Coleman, Elvis Costello, Laurie Anderson, Bill Frisell, Jewel, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, and Tom Waits. “There are so many ways Greg and I connect both musically and personally,” says Cole. “He likes to challenge me and surprise me. We have such a strong musical kinship - I guess that's why he gets the best out of me.”

Cohen knew at once the strictly A-list New York-based players he wanted for much of the project. These would include: Matt Munisteri (guitar); Steven Wolf (drums); Marty Ehrlich (alto saxophone); Lenny Pickett (tenor saxophone); Scott Robinson (bass saxophone); John Allred (trombone); Robert DeBellis (bass clarinet & baritone saxophone) and both Vincent Chancey and Mark Taylor on French horn. Having produced Holly's Trio album “Blame It On My Youth” in 1991, he wanted again to work on some tracks with Trio players, bassist David Piltch and pianist Aaron Davis. Noted Toronto guitarist Kevin Breit was an important ingredient as well.

After Cole chose the album’s repertoire, she started chatting down the phone line with noted New York-based arranger/pianist Gil Goldstein who has had a long association working with Michael Brecker, David Sanborn and Pat Metheny, among many others. She sent him the songs recorded a capella to give him her idea of the form, the mood and overall concept of the song. “Gil was completely open,” says Cole. “Some arrangers don’t want your input. Their attitude is, “After I do the arrangement, you can find your place in it.’ Gil wasn’t like that. All my ideas he was open to and we worked very well together. I think it's because we both have a genuine love for the material and a similar esthetic musically.”

“Our communication worked,” says Goldstein who plays piano throughout the album. “I felt I understood her thing and she was open to my vision of her thing. I’m always a little bit happy and a little bit nervous working with someone that has a set idea. But, even if you have a set idea there is still a lot of flexible space. As an arranger, you still have to fill in a lot of blanks. Holly liked the way I filled in the blanks.

If there’s anything that remains consistent from album to album with Cole--who has sold over a million units worldwide--it has been her desire to explore the entire spectrum of human emotions. Her approach this time was to perform songs dealing with an aspect of life all people experience but rarely talk about: self-deception. “I started looking at songs that loosely deal with the concept of self-deception or denial,” says Cole. “I find that I gravitate towards this subject in songs very naturally. I think it’s because of my love of subtext. What's implied is always more intriguing than what's being literally stated. And it let's people go to the place that is the most emotionally compelling for them." Among the album's highlights are Cole's tender take on Irving Berlin's “Be Careful, It's My Heart," a very sultry "Alleycat Song," and an absolutely burning version of "Charade".

As a celebration of life and all that entails, Jobim's exquisite “Waters of March” is one of the album's most captivating tracks. Cole's performance is gripping and frankly it's hard to imagine a vocal that could be more “in the moment.”
She uses Jobim's poetic form as a vehicle for some of the most emotionally charged singing and evocative phrasing that she has ever recorded. It is truly inspired and matched with equal intensity from the other musicians on the track.
“Reaching For The Moon' I found in my Irving Berlin Collection of sheet music, and I hadn’t ever heard it before." Cole states. "The song really spoke to me. The tragic idea of reaching for something you can’t possibly attain is very human.”

Adds Cohen, “I was really happy Holly chose ‘Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries’ As soon as she did I thought about her and Matt Munisteri being featured together. Matt is almost straight out of that era. The result was joyful in one sense and ironic in another. Sorta what Holly is about.” Cole also contributed her own composition “Larger Than Life” a sly nod to one of her favorite composers, the late Cole Porter. Ironically, it follows Cole’s ‘It’s All Right With Me” on the album. “Well, it’s a Porter type song with the same sort of plays on words & grand references - all with a wink.” she says.

Cohen expects that Cole’s fans, especially those in Japan, Europe and North America where she has legions of followers, will be delighted with the album. “I think this is Holly’s best record,” he says. “Not because I was involved but she can handle this type of musical landscape. Not many singers today can. Because of her musicality. Because of her understanding of subtlety. As a singer you have to believe it. You have to live and breathe these kinds of subtleties.
I was just floored at what Holly did.”

What many people like about Cole is that she’s her own person musically. We know she has influences because she has talked about them. But when she sings that’s not what you get. Cohen says: “When Holly sings she delivers a song with incredible personal sincerity. From her intonation to her phrasing, her sense of dynamics, her sense of holding onto a line, and her sense of surprise. Her singing has all of the things we associate with great jazz soloists and instrumentalists Holly is one of the great singers we have today.”



The House Is Haunted By The Echo Of Your Last Goodbye  






I Will Wait For You  



Waters Of March  



Alley Cat Song  



Larger Than Life  



Be Careful,It's My Heart  



It's Alright With Me  



You're My Thrill  



Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries  



Reaching For The Moon