Holly (2018)

Moross, De Paul, Brown, Gershwin, van Heusen, Rodgers, Ellington

Holly Cole

Internationally acclaimed Canadian Jazz songstress Holly Cole debuts at NativeDSD with the DSD Album "Holly". One of the defining recordings of her long and celebrated career, this album includes 3 tracks with her original trio members David Piltch and Aaron Davis who collaborated with her on her very successful ‘Don’t Smoke in Bed’ and ‘Girl Talk’ and recordings made in New York with a whole new band produced by Russ Titelman. Her versatile and distinctive voice, along with her adventurous repertoire is a true delight. 

Holly Cole writes:

When I made this record I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that I was excited; excited to work with producer Russ Titelman, excited to work at Sear Sound Studio in New York, a wonderful studio I had recorded songs from my “Temptation” recording in and excited to record with a whole new band that Russ Titelman had assembled. It was an interesting experience for me to walk in the studio on day one of recording and meet most of these people for the first time. And then play songs that I basically did not participate in arranging. That’s pretty different for me. I consider arranging to be a substantial part of my identity as a musician. Having less control was challenging. And what I found was that it took me to new places as a singer.

Russ and I both wanted Larry Goldings as the piano player and arranger for the New York sessions. Apart from being an astounding musician he shares my musical aesthetic and is a kindred spirit.

Russ suggested that I do a couple of vocal duets with trombone player/singer Wycliffe Gordon. I haven’t done that many vocal duets before. It can be hard to find the right chemistry musically and personally with another singer. Wycliffe and I fell in from the get go. He’s such a fascinating man and a great singer and trombone player. Singing with him was pure joy.

The sessions in New York were very intensive. That was a great way to work because we all got to know each other personally and musically very quickly. We did few takes and were able to record those precious moments of discovery. That is so important to me. Capturing the spark of musicians connecting with one another and discovering the essence of the song while recording is rare and fantastic.

To me this is the greatest joy in improvised music.

When I got home to Toronto I was brimming with ideas and enthusiasm and excited to share these ideas and determined to record several more songs for the record. I love playing with my original Trio members Aaron Davis and David Piltch, piano and bass and along with drummer Davide DiRenzo and John Johnson on horns we recorded three more tracks that made the record. And then we were done, it’s my hope you come to enjoy the fruits of our collective labours as much as we all do, happy listening! - Holly

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Holly Cole

Born into a musical family in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Holly Cole from birth was inundated with a wide range of musical styles. Both her parents were classical musicians, pop and rock were the music of choice for her peer group at school, and Celtic and country were omnipresent within her immediate community. In this environment singing was as natural as riding a bike. While most families spend their after dinner time engaged in discussions as to what television shows to watch, Cole’s family debated over what to sing. Everyone in her family played piano and, upon graduating from high school, her older brother headed off to study jazz at the prestigious Berkelee College of Music in Boston.

Cole was sixteen when she decided to take a couple of months off, head down to Boston and spend some quality time with her elder sibling. For the next eight weeks, she hung out with her brother and his friends listening to the seminal recordings of every important post-war jazz artist. The experience changed her life.

"When I first heard jazz," recalls Cole, "the music had all the harmonic complexity, richness and level of musicianship that classical music had but it also had a few elements that classical music did not have, for instance improvisation, and most importantly, it sounded bad, like it was on the dark side! As a sixteen year old, that was entirely compelling. It had all the right ingredients! Hearing singers such as Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Anita O’Day and Betty Carter, I was shocked by how personal and intimate their statements were. They seemed so completely in control of their art form. I dove into the music." 

Moving to Toronto a couple of years later, the budding chanteuse established the Holly Cole Trio, featuring bassist David Piltch and pianist extraordinaire Aaron Davis. Between 1990 and 1993, the Trio recorded three superb albums, 1990’s Girl Talk, 1992’s Blame It On My Youth and 1993’s Don’t Smoke In Bed. While all three discs were largely steeped in the jazz tradition,Don’t Smoke in Bed included a soaring version of Johnny Nash’s "I Can See Clearly Now," suggesting that the group’s sonic palette was beginning to widen. This was more than confirmed with 1995’s stunning Temptation album, which consisted entirely of material by song writing iconoclast Tom Waits. Cole’s most recent album, Dark Dear Heart released in the winter of 1997/98, brought everything together. Utilizing the possibilities of an expanded ensemble, the blossoming singer turned pop classics such as Joni Mitchell’s "River" and the Beatles’ "I’ve Just Seen a Face" inside out, finding new meanings in both, ultimately making them undeniably her own. "I’ve Just Seen a Face" went on to become her first bona fide radio hit.

Such a shift in repertoire and style has occurred organically. "As I grew and changed," explains Cole. "I decided to explore other avenues of my musicality, the music I had grown up with." Coming into full maturity as a vocalist, Cole began to inject pop material with a jazz sensibility and, conversely, jazz material with a pop sensibility. The results were inspiring.

"That’s the only honest thing I can do," she concludes. "I know and love jazz music. I know and love pop music. They’re both important and part of my musicality!"

photo: from cover 'HOLLY' (2018)

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Holly (2018)

Moross, De Paul, Brown, Gershwin, van Heusen, Rodgers, Ellington

Holly Cole

    Jazz da Gama

While we never really needed another Holly Cole disc to establish her supremacy over vocal music – any vocal music, but let’s say music in the Jazz style, for now – but we will always welcome another disc if only to be mesmerized by her smoky and sometimes gravelly, and always alluring way with words. So here’s Holly; just that disc to remind us that where once there was only the fire and brimstone of youth, now much of that has been melted in with the well-honed values of wisdom and experience. And that’s just another way of reiterating that while nothing has been lost after thirty years of paying her dues, much has been added to her iridescent vocalists. Holly comes five years after Miss Cole last graced the studio and in her re-entry into that haloed space couldn’t have been more auspicious. First there is Russ Titelman in the Producer’s Chair, but more importantly Miss Cole is in absolutely top form. The album features beautifully crafted arrangements of mesmeric variety and sensuousness, and each is sung gloriously, with spacy allure, in every lovingly caressed phrase – including two songs: “I Was Doing All Right” and “If I Could Write a Book” with the prodigiously gifted Wycliffe Gordon. Mr. Gordon phrases like Pops reborn and leans into Miss Cole the way The Great One leaned into Ella, and Babs… which is something that Miss Cole clearly cherishes as she shines brightly. But Miss Cole oozes quality on every chart. Her chosen material judiciously focuses on a mixture of standards and some lesser-known gems including one from Mose Allison: “Your Mind is on Vacation” – listen to how she seductively bends notes here melding them in with Aaron Davis’ radiant Fender Rhodes. Then there is “It Could Happen to You”, a beautiful duet feature with Larry Goldings, who appears again on Hammond B3 as Miss Cole inventively sculpts the long and languid inventions of “Lazy Afternoon”. Meanwhile on “I Was Doing All Right”, “We’ve Got a World That Swings” and “”They Can’t Take That Away From Me” she is squaring off with Scott Robinson – heard here in all his sumptuous glory on tenor saxophone and cornet. While John Johnson shines on “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head”… This is a new Holly Cole in many respects, as the vocalist appears with several (relatively) new musicians, or at least musicians she does not perform with often – such Ben Street and Ed Cherry, Justin Faulkner – but there are familiar faces too. Aaron Davis, David Piltch and Davide DiRenzo also return again and as expected they are in tune with Miss Cole’s artistry and vision as ever. But it is Miss Cole who shines brightest as she displays the breadth and depth of her palette of rusts, greens and golds, and a timbre like expensive raw silk; insightful emotionality, supple facility and overall musicality. Make no mistake: Holly Cole is back and she has much to offer.

Raul da Gama [read full review]

    The Whole Note

It has been five long years since the jazz-infused, honey-voiced Holly Cole has released an album. Recognized internationally for her unique, sultry performances, the new recording does not disappoint. There has always been a vein of honesty that runs through every note that Cole sings – reflected in her often stripped-down arrangements of engaging and rarely performed material. On this exquisite, self-titled recording, Cole collaborates with genius pianist/keyboardist Larry Goldings. Goldings has notably performed and recorded with such diverse artists as the late jazz guitar legend Jim Hall and iconic popular music artist James Taylor. Cole produces and contributes to arrangements on the 11 delicious tracks, and her fine collaborators include producer Russ Titelman; Aaron Davis on keyboards; Ed Cherry on guitar; David Piltch and Ben Street on bass; Justin Faulkner and Davide DiRenzo on drums; John Johnson on flute; Scott Robinson on tenor sax and cornet; and Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, who also sings two delicious duets with Cole! A huge standout is Mose Allison’s Your Mind is on Vacation. Cole’s sassy, ironic interpretation and Davis’ Fender Rhodes solo invoke lost innocence and frustration (of the late 1960s and today). Burke and van Heusen’s It Could Happen to You is presented with a simply stunning piano/vocal arrangement. Set at an unusually slow tempo, Cole deftly wrings every last drop of emotional content from the potent lyric, while Goldings demonstrates how it’s supposed to be done. Teach Me Tonight, is arranged with a big dose of Goldings’ sexy Hammond B3 work – and when Cole sings in her velvety alto “I have lost all fear, my love,” we believe it.

Lesley Mitchell-Clarke[read full review]

Holly (2018)

Moross, De Paul, Brown, Gershwin, van Heusen, Rodgers, Ellington

Holly Cole

Analog Tape Player: Nagra-T modified with high end tube playback electronics
Digital Converters: Horus and Hapi, Merging Technologies with dCS Vivaldi Clock
Mastering Engineer: René Laflamme - Transfer from Analog Master Tape to DSD 256
Microphones: Sennheiser, Neumann
Producer: Russ Titelman (all tracks except 2, 5, 9) and Holly Cole (tracks 2, 5, 9)
Recording Engineer: Chris Allen, George Seara, Jimmy Bralower
Recording Location: Sear Sound, NYC, March 12-16, 2016 (Except Tracks 2, 5, 9), Noble Street Studios, Toronto, May 23-24, 2017 (tracks 2, 5 ,9)
Recording Type & Bit Rate: Analog

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2XHDRR1101: Holly
00:39:35   Select quality & channels above
Tracks.
1.
I'm Beginning To See The Light
Ellington
00:03:00   N/A
2.
Your Mind Is On Vacation
00:03:22   N/A
3.
The Goldwyn Follies - I Was Doing All Right
Gershwin
00:02:55   N/A
4.
And The Angels Sing - It Could Happen To You
van Heusen
00:03:39   N/A
5.
Ain't That A Kick in the Head?
van Heusen
00:03:13   N/A
6.
Teach Me Tonight
De Paul
00:04:17   N/A
7.
We've Got A World That Swings
Brown
00:02:46   N/A
8.
Shall We Dance - They Can't Take That Away From Me
Gershwin
00:03:40   N/A
9.
Everybody Loves Somebody
00:04:21   N/A
10.
Pal Joey - I Could Write A Book
Rodgers
00:03:20   N/A
11.
Golden Apple: Lazy Afternoon
Moross
00:05:02   N/A

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