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Hilary Kole: It Takes Two

Vocalist taps 11 stellar pianists for a duets collection

Hilary Kole
Hilary Kole

“It’s like when you play tennis and you’re paired with someone who is better than you, all of a sudden your game gets really good.” That’s how vocalist Hilary Kole describes her latest album, You Are There (Justin Time), a labor of love shaped of duets with 11 masterful jazz pianists: Monty Alexander, Kenny Barron, Dave Brubeck, Alan Broadbent, Freddy Cole, Benny Green, Hank Jones, Steve Kuhn, Michel Legrand, Mike Renzi and Cedar Walton.

The project was ignited by another piano colossus when, back in August 2006, Oscar Peterson made what would turn out to be his final New York City appearance, at Birdland. “I didn’t really meet Oscar as musician-to-musician,” explains Kole, “[Birdland owner] Gianni Valenti, who is the producer of You Are There, asked me to help out with Oscar between sets. Oscar sort of took me under his wing, and one night he invited me to sing with him. He wasn’t exactly happy with how the band was playing while I was singing, so when we got off the stage he said, ‘I owe you one,’ and Gianni took the opportunity to say, ‘Why don’t you record with her?’

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