Hilary Kole’s clear sultry voice is one jazz enthusiasts shouldn’t miss. She’s always been in love with the American Songbook, those songs written by Irving Berlin and others between 1917 and 1960. She performed some of those as well as the new standards – those by Paul Simon and Elvis Costello– reinterpreted at 54 Below, Thursday evening. Her selections were just right for her voice and style.
She opened with “Cabaret” with a lively jazz arrangement with her quartet John Hart on drums, Aaron Kimmel on guitar, Paul Gill on bass and Andy Ezrin on piano followed by “Somewhere” from “West Side Story.” She’s at her best with the swing numbers. Her strongest tunes were her original compositions. “A Sliver of You” differs from the norm when it comes to love songs. It’s a song about being the other woman and having only a sliver of that piece of pie. She also played piano and sang another original work, “Where The Angels.” Her voice sounds best with just the piano. Hold the drums.
Kole, 37, both looks and sounds more confident when she’s at the piano than standing at a stationary microphone. She’s sexy in her skinny silver dress and ponytail and her movements subtle but she doesn’t play to the entire room. She did a beautiful rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” In fact, Paul Simon’s songs were meant for her to sing. Another highlight was “In a World of Your Imagination.” At the piano, she sang “Blackberry Winter” as she said good night to the enthusiastic audience at her single night performance at 54 Below.