15 Oct BVS Reviews: Carol’s Opening A Curtain
by Bruce Von Stiers
Several years ago I interviewed jazz vocalist Carol Duboc about an album she had just recorded. Along with discussing the album, we also talked about the role she had in the John Travolta film, Be Cool. At that time, the film was being shown in theaters. Carol told me about a fun music video that she did with Dwayne Johnson that would be included in the DVD release of the film. Although Carol’s role was small in the film, it garnered her some recognition. And the album she had recorded was successful as well.
Since that time, Carol has recorded a few more albums. This year finds Carol with a brand new album. The title for this new album is Open The Curtains. The album is being released by Gold Note Music. It was produced and arranged by Carol. It has ten songs and a play time of forty-one minutes. The album was recorded at the Duboc Studios and Village Recorder. Of the ten songs on the album, Carol wrote five of them and co-wrote one other.
The theme of the album wraps itself around the empowerment of women. Carol surrounded herself with some of the top female musicians to play music behind her vocals on the album. The press information says that these musicians bring forth Carol’s “…message of female strength, wisdom and independence…” I think that Carol indeed picked women who present a strong presence in the music world.
Those women who played on the album include Patrice Rushen. This Grammy winner has had a long career with singing, songwriting and composing among other talents. Patrice was on Rhodes, piano, synths and organ on this album.
Queen Cora, otherwise known as Cora Coleman-Dunham, was on drums. She was a constant collaborator with Prince and has also worked with Beyonce and other top artists. Another Prince alumnus is bassist Rhonda Smith. She also helps out Jeff Beck in his band. Rhonda plays both the upright and electric bass for Carol on the album. Someone else who’s played with Jeff Beck is guitarist Jennifer Batten. She also played on each of Michael Jackson’s world tours from 1987 to 1997. Jennifer plays lead guitar on two of the songs on the album. You might know Aubrey Logan from her appearances on American Idol or being a featured artist on Postmodern Jukebox. Aubrey lends her talents on trombone to one song on the album.
The main guitarist for the album is Bibi McGill. She is best known at this time for being the lead guitarist and musical director for Beyonce. Nine year old Anna Duboc provided lead background vocals and ad-libs on one song. Another youngster, Ava Dela Cruz, also did backing vocals on the same song.
One of my all-time favorite saxophonists is Mindi Abair. She does all of the sax work on this album. And, finally, yet another Prince alumnus is on the album. It is the formidable Sheila E., who provides the percussion for the album.
For the mixing and engineering functions on the album, there was Don Murray. Jay Mitchell was in charge of some additional programming. The mastering for the album was done by Bernie Grundman Mastering.
In Pieces is the first song. It starts out with a little bit of percussion based funk. It quickly moves into a mellow, sax laced pace. Carol’s vocals are fluid and lyrical on the song.
Feeling Good is a mellow, bluesy torch song. It is pretty decent rendition of the Anthony Newley song.
The title track, Open The Curtains, is in third position on the album. It is a cool song that has a bit of funk. It follows theme of the album, which is about being a strong woman and not letting things get in your way. This is the song that features Anna Duboc and Ava Dela Cruz on backing vocals. There is some pretty cool piano in the song. But the rest of the music in the song also does well to complement the vocals.
Carol does a rendition of Patrice Rushen’s song Forget Me Nots. It seemed to be kind of a nod to Patrice for helping out on the album. Carol’s rendition is slightly different than Patrice’s original song, but is nicely done.
A tiny bit sultriness is the tone of Whisper. It’s about her trying to get over him.
Faces is a fast and energetic groove piece. This is the first song that features the guitar of Jennifer Batten.
Carol has a knack for adding her own style to standards to make them fresh and exciting. I really enjoyed her rendition of the Bobby Hebb song, Sunny, on an earlier album. On this album, Carol takes a turn at an all-time classic, Fever. Carol adds just enough sultry tone to give the song the desired effect, yet keeping it relatively light. This is the song that Aubrey Logan provides some cool trombone on.
A little faster pace is Missing You Missing Me. A light groove piece, it’s about her not wanting him to let go completely.
Not only are the vocals on Precious great, the sax music on the song is terrific. There is some decent harmonizing on the song as well.
I’m Gone is the last song on the album. It is light groove song about her leaving him. This is the other song that features Jennifer Batten on guitar.
It seems that jazz singers are one class of entertainers whose vocal talents remain constant over time. And even though Carol Duboc doesn’t have several decades of experience, she has definitely retained the quality of her vocals through numerous albums. Not only is this new album a way to bring forth the essence of strong and independent women, it showcases Carol’s great vocal talents.
Open The Curtains is set to be released on August 19th , 2016.