This Blue Ridge Mountain-bred artist grew up in Western Maryland in a musical family and learned violin, trombone and guitar from an early age. After college Diane Hubka moved to Washington, DC where she frequented local jazz clubs Blues Alley, One Step Down and Mr. Y's Soul Kitchen, absorbing the sounds of local legends Charlie Byrd and Shirley Horn, hearing national acts, as well as honing her own skills in those rooms. In 1986 she moved to New York City and was awarded a one-year jazz fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for private study with vocalist Anne Marie Moss. She also studied piano, voice and guitar privately with premier NY jazz artists Barry Harris, Harold Danko, Connie Crothers, Sheila Jordan, Jay Clayton, Howard Alden and John Hart. A dynamic member of New York City's jazz scene for two decades, the award-winning vocalist relocated to Los Angeles in 2004.
Diane's newest CD, West Coast Strings (SSJ Records) features the singer with a far ranging program of music with eight West Coast master guitarists, plus soul-jazz veteran, Bobby Pierce guesting on Hammond B-3. Hubka also plays guitar on three tracks.
"Brigas Nunca Mais" finds Hubka singing this Jobim song in its native language with clear diction and a soft tone that allow the intricate guitar work of Peter Sprague to shine, while Hubka keeps the rhythm guitar work flowing underneath. Hubka's bass lines and chords are clear and flowing under Sprague's active solo; this particular song has no bassist, so the subltiles of Hubka and Sprague are in full view. Sprague's nylon-strung guitar lines are energetic and pushing the beat, but never rushing. He builds each line and develops clear motifs and allows the phrases to breath as he climbs the neck to a logical climax. Hubka's gentle swaying phrasing of the final statement of the melody is very much in tune with the heritage of this Jobim selection.
"Amanhacer" is penned by guitarist John Pisano and his wife Jeanne, his 'Guitar Night,' at various California venues has been going on for sixteen years now and features a different, outstanding guitarist each week with John's trio. Pisano's inclusion and contribution to West Coast Strings is fitting and in line with the overall energy and comrodiray of the entire project. The melody and lyrics are very enjoyable and fits right in with the surrounding standards. Hubka conveys the emotion behind the heartwarming lyrics and ensemble provides an easy bossa feel for her to sing on. Peter Sprague and John Pisano's guitar work are both featured in this selection. Sprague takes the first chorus with his usual confidence of developing a line, both in shape and time. Pisano's soft steel stings follows with a relaxed development of ideas, combined with his soft singing of each well placed note. Hubka takes the melody out leaving the listener feeling joyous and positive.
"It Ain't Necessarily So" is the serious toe tapper of the set with the thumpin' organ feel from Bobby Pierce and fine guitar work from Anthony Wilson. Everyone on this tune is pulling the blues out of this Gershwin classic and it is Hubka's vocal control and delivery on this selection, which is the highlight of the set. Wilson's warm guitar tone and control is strong and propels the selection with bop ornamented blues licks and bends. Pierce keeps his solo brief, but concise and swingin,' Kendall Kay's drums and Pierce's quarter note feel is in the pocket and makes good use of that triplet feel!
Track Listing: West Coast Blues; Moondance; Brigas Nunca Mais; Peace; Warming To
Spring; It Ain’t Necessarily So; Amanhacer; Never Let Me Go; Moon Ray;
They Say It’s Spring; Slow Hot Wind; A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing;
Someone Else Is Steppin’ In.
Personnel: Diane Hubka: vocals, guitar (3, 8, 11); Anthony Wilson: guitar (1, 6,
13); Mimi Fox: guitar (2, 12); Peter Sprague: guitar (3, 7); Larry
Koonse: guitar ( 4, 8); Barry Zweig guitar (5, 9); David Eastlee:
guitar ( 5, 9); John Pisano: guitar ( 7, 10); Ron Eschete: guitar (10,
11) Bobby Pierce: Hammond B-3 (1, 6, 13); Jeff D’Angelo: bass ( 4, 5,
9, 13); John Leftwich: bass (7); Kendall Kay: drums (1,4, 5, 6, 9,
13); Enzo Tedesco: drums ( 3, 7).
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr. Garner, I love playing the piano... is there any advice you could give me?'' He hesitated, then looked back at me and said, Keep playin' and don't stop!'' That was great advice because at 60 years old, I'm still playin' and haven't stopped!