Q&A – Holly Cole
You have incredible range and can interpret anything from jazz standards to Tom Waits. With that kind of perspective, you must have something up your sleeve. What artists are you interested in interpreting in song?
So many. To name a few: Bill Withers, Randy Newman, Harry Nielson, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Richard & Robert Sherman, Kris Kristofferson, Burt Bacharach, Peggy Lee, Hank Williams…
You’re playing at the Dominion Chalmers Church for the 2014 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival. Do you change your setlist depending on the venue?
Yes. I do it on the fly, once I get a feel for the room and the people in it.
What do you have planned for your show here on June 24?
We always look forward to playing in Ottawa. The audiences are enthusiastic and also great listeners. We’re doing material from the new record NIGHT and some live stuff that people haven’t heard before. Along with songs that I know that people want to hear.
You have played a few shows recently with the original members of the Holly Cole trio. Will they be part of your band on this tour?
This concert is with a five piece. Aaron Davis on piano. Aaron has played with me from the get-go and he is the original piano player from The Holly Cole Trio. Also, Marc Rogers on bass, Davide DiRenzo on drums and percussion and Johnny Johnson on saxophone, clarinet and flute. It is a STELLAR band.
What was it like receiving the Ella Fitzgerald award, which you were granted last year?
It was a huge honour. I was floored. Singers that I deeply admire and idolize have received this award. 2 of them are also going to be here at The TD Ottawa Jazz Festival – Aretha Franklin and Bobby McFerrin.
On your last album, Night, you talked about the power of the evening hours. What’s so great about dusk?
Well, I love dusk. Dusk is beautiful and melancholy, but I don’t consider dusk the night. The night to me resides more in the wee small hours. When it is very still and there’s no natural light, except the moon. There’s not a lot of sound and it feels like there is a lot of space to explore.
You spent some time in the Toronto Queen Street music scene before forming your trio. What’s a fond memory of that time?
When I first moved from the Maritimes to Toronto it was fantastic. The music scene on Queen St. was so vibrant, supportive, creative and open. You could hear many different genres of music, most of which were interesting hybrids. It was inspiring and left the door open for me and my concept for jazz.
In bios, you mentioned falling in love with postwar jazz because of your big brothers’ influence. What were some songs that the two of you listened to as kids?
To name a few: Lili Marlene. On The Street Where You Live. All The Pretty Little Horses. Waltzing Matilda. Mack The Knife. We also listened to a lot of classical music and Tom Lehrer – our parents are classical pianists.
Past albums have been thematically framed: wintery feelings; the ups and downs of romantic love; nighttime feelings…. What themes do you want to explore next?
Any and all. The ups and downs in my life define me. Much more than the times in my life when there is an even keel – which is pretty rare anyway.
The 34th edition of the Ottawa Jazz Festival has more than 113 concerts, including yours. Who do you want to see or meet while you’re here?
This line up is just stellar. I kid you not when I say I’d like to hear and meet everyone.