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Hilary Kole: A Self-Portrait

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Many a jazz career has been derailed due to personal complications, but Hilary Kole’s case is rather unique. Five years ago, the sultry Kole was on the fast track to major success, with two solid standards collections on the Justin Time label. Then, in 2011, Kole split with her boyfriend, Birdland club owner John Valenti, who was also her manager. The breakup grew increasingly thorny (even making the New York Post), with Valenti allegedly holding firm to his contract with Kole, disenabling her to record elsewhere.

The dispute now settled, Kole is back in action, having shifted to the smaller Miranda label. Navigating a mixed bag of standards and contemporary pop tunes, the revitalized Kole has undergone a subtle stylistic change. Her sound has grown plusher, closely aligning her with Jane Monheit: Close your eyes and it’s almost impossible to tell the difference.

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