Hilary Kole's CD Release Concert at Birdland


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Four years in the making, Hilary Kole's new album, You Are There (Justin Time), whose release was celebrated at Birdland on Monday evening, is the equivalent of a jazz singer's college education. On the recording Ms. Kole sings with 11 eminent jazz pianists: Monty Alexander, Kenny Barron, Alan Broadbent, Dave Brubeck, Freddy Cole, Benny Green, Steve Kuhn, Michel Legrand, Mike Renzi, Cedar Walton and Hank Jones (who died on May 16).

Because every collaboration between a singer and accompanist has its own particular chemistry—one that usually takes time to refine—the effort expended on “You Are There" is more or less the equivalent of what it takes to develop 11 different acts. On Monday four of the pianists—Mr. Renzi, Mr. Walton, Mr. Cole and Mr. Alexander—accompanied Ms. Kole and her band (Mr. Renzi on piano, John Hart on guitar, Paul Gill on bass and Carmen Intorre on drums).

Filling in for the other seven pianists, Mr. Renzi, whom Ms. Kole introduced as “the greatest vocal accompanist ever," demonstrated his extraordinary grace as a pianistic arranger whose accompaniments have a panoramic orchestral sweep, their parts connected by gorgeous long-lined runs that keep a low enough profile to avoid conspicuous showboating.

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