The first CD from jazz vocalist Diane Hubka, “Haven’t We Met” featuring jazz legend Lee Konitz was nominated for a Jazz Award for Best Recording Debut of the Year in 1999. It is already well know to a growing number of jazz aficionados and critics. Her second release “Look No Further” was described by a LA Jazz Scene’s Scott Yanow as, “one of the best in recent times”.
“You Inspire Me”, featuring seven of the world’s top virtuoso guitarists, not only takes the talented vocalist to a new plateau but brings the listener along for a swinging and soulful ride. It is also an evocative exploration of love and romance with all their joys and sadness. From the soaring highs of Bob Dorough’s “Nothing Like You” and Johnny Mercer’s “Moment To Moment” to the almost palpable pain of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Winter Moon”, Diane brings to each lyric a clarity and poignancy reminiscent of Carmen McRae and Beverly Kenny.
In Addition to her acknowledged vocal talent, Diane is perhaps best known for her unerring choice of material. As WBGO’s Michael Bourne puts it, “She finds songs that haven’t been done and refreshing new ways to enliven songs that have been done almost to death”. “You Inspire Me” is a case in point. The title track, written by Tommy Wolfe and Fran Landesman and recorded by famed vocal duo Jackie & Roy Kral, sprang to her mind during the formative stages of this CD.
And what about the aforementioned virtuosos doing the inspiring? Messrs. Bertoncini, Bollenback, Hart, Lubambo, Pizzarelli, Vignola, and Wilkins. Could this line-up be equaled? Perhaps. Could it be topped? No way.
Gene Bertoncini a quiet master of the nylon-stringed classical guitar known for his impeccable musical taste and sensibility. These qualities are abundantly evident on both “Suddenly” and the “Old New Waltz”, written by his long-time duo partner, bassist Michael Moore, with touching lyrics by Frank Reilly.
Paul Bollenback anyone who has heard his recording with original Joey De //Francesco knows that this cat has chops to spare, as is evident on this CD’s title track. “Moment to Moment” showcases his warm toned lyrical side while Diane’s vocal is a perfect example of the way she uses her voice as another instrument in the overall ensemble.
(Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart)
You Inspire Me
(Tommy Wolf, Fran Landesman)
(Hoagy Carmichael, Harold Adamson)
(Eumir Deodato, Norman Gimbel)
(Antonio Carlos Jobim)
John Hart John appeared on Diane’s previous two CD’s as both performer and arranger, a role he reprises here as arranger for “You Inspire Me” and guitarist on Bob Dorough’s “Nothing Like You” and Hoagy Carmichael’s “Winter Moon”. His playing on the latter is stunning in it’s seeming simplicity. Diane chose John to play on “Nothing Like You” because “Bob may be my favorite writer and I always say John gets Bob Dorough!”
Romeo Lubambo Leader of the famed Trio Da Paz –-who appear with him here –-is another in the long line of brilliant musicians and composers who have brought bossa nova, sambo, and other indigenous Brazilian music into the contemporary jazz world. Check out his intro on “Inside A Silent Tear” and his interplay with Diane’s seat vocalizing on “Love and Wave”. The trio arranged Love to alternate between the samba and the baiao rhythm, which comes from Northern Brazil.
Bucky Pizzarelli This cat swings. As a solo artist or playing duets with any number of fellow guitarists, including his son John, Bucky gets more joy out of a pick and seven strings than anyone on plant. His work here with Frank Vignola on “Blue Moon”, “Sunday in New York”, and particularly “Nuages” shows this mature master at his best. Did I mention that he swings?
Frank Vignola It is truly appreciate that Frank is paired here with Bucky as the two of them, though generations apart in age, share a musical sensibility that is the very essence of jazz. Rank is well known as an interpreter of the music of Django Reinhardt but he also has performed or recorded with such diverse artists as mark O’Conner,Chet Atkins,David Grisman, and Madonna.
Jack Wilkins Wilkins, who has accompanied many of the great singers of our time including Chet Baker, Sarah Vaughan, and Mel Torme, appears here in the dual role of performer and creator. “Romance”, which he co-wrote with Marc Puricelli, is a ballad filled with bittersweet yearning in which Diane’s voice and Jack’s guitar are two sides of the same musical calm.
Let’s not forget the other great musicals who play on the CD: The Brazilian rhythm masters Nilron Natta and Duduka da Fonroca of Trio Da Paz, and drummer Jeff Hirchfield and John Herbert whose bass solo on “Winter Moon” is pure delight.
With guitar players like these, and the other great musicians involved, it’s hardly a wonder that Diane was “inspired” to produce this distinctive CD. But great ensemble jazz is a two-way street and I think it’s safe to say that the players were equally stimulated, excited, influenced, and yes, inspired. “You Inspired Me” is, to coin a phase the produce of a “mutual inspiration society.”
This recording is dedicated to guitarist Bill Bittner (1976-2001) who introduced me to Jazz and the Blues through his teaching, the recordings of the Nat King Cole trio, Carmen McCrae and Ella Fitzgerald, and, of course, his wonderful guitar playing. It’s fitting that we included the song “Blue Moon” here, because I sang it with Bill and his group on my first ever jazz gig at the Blue Moon Saloon in Grantville, MD! Bill swinging on his 1957 Gibson L7, with Charlie Christian pickup, left a permanent impression on my young jazz ears. He truly inspired me to always follow my heart and sing the music I love.
Singing on this CD with SEVEN of the world’s virtuoso guitarists was a dream come true. I hope it shows some of the many colors and voices each player and type of guitar can have, as well as the Intimate, romantic blending of guitar with the voice.
One of my favorite memorials from the recording sessions was during “Nuages” (“Clouds”, which has new lyrics by our friend Dr. Frank Forte). Bucky told us that “Django” had named the tune after seeing his girlfriend off at the train station, with the huge steam clouds rising from the engine – inspiring Bucky’s introduction!
Thank you everyone who worked on the project, musicians, engineers, and the artists, for your professionalism and inspiration! Special thanks to Dr. Frank Forte, Ken Dryden and Bill Fender (of Legato Guitars) for their unwavering support; Ken Vore for the original concept; and to guitarist Dan Rose, for sharing his vast knowledge of recording. And many thanks to jack and Jimmy and all the folks at VSOJAZ Records for your wonderful support!