Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Wow, Russ Titelman, Holly Cole snagged a big-name, classic veteran producer from L.A.'s golden studio days of the '60's for her latest, her first album in five years. And Titelman (Eric Clapton, Brian Wilson) brought some pretty slick players to the sessions too, including vocalist/trumpeter Wycliffe Gordon, who does two killer duets with Cole. I especially love the Louis Armstrong-inspired I Was Doing All Right. Normally we don't get duets on her albums, so this is a great change of pace, and she certainly shines in that situation too.

Of course, Cole can put together a mean band on her own, and her regulars Aaron Davis and David Pilch show up on piano and bass for three of the cuts. That includes the always-sharp Mose Allison tune, Your Mind Is On Vacation (but your mouth is working overtime), a lyric that never seems to go out of season. Her take on the old swinger Ain't That A Kick In The Head is a cool one too, as she really emphasizes the Sammy Cahn lyrics that sort of got buried by Dean Martin's trademark slur. Another Cahn lyric, Teach Me Tonight, best known from Dinah Washington, gets a great arrangement (Larry Goldings does them all here) featured his Hammond B-3 organ. Goldings, among his many jazz and pop credits, is a well-known James Taylor collaborator, and a great catch for Cole's album too.

Almost all the cuts are pretty well-known from the great years of jazz vocal songs, including the Gershwin's They Can't Take That Away From Me, and Rodgers & Hart's I Could Write A Book. The biggest surprise is her pared-down, unironic treatment of the big Dean Martin number Everybody Loves Somebody, his huge 1964 #1, done with just Piltch and Davis. The material, the players and production, and especially the vocal performance, this is real A-list stuff from Cole in today's jazz world.

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