Critical Jazz by Brent Black: Carol Duboc Smile

Carol Duboc is one of the finest vocalists working the smoother side of the jazz street. A sonic soul shower for the spirit finds Duboc channelling what would be considered personal despair into an incredibly cathartic release that addresses the end of her marriage and the amazing hope and sense of renewal found in the smile of her child. A few friends drop by to make this more of a jazz collective then a modern contemporary recording. This collective includes Jeff Lorber, Brian Bromberg along with greats Hubert Laws, Luis Conte and Michael Thomspon who add some jazz nasty to a near perfect release for the 2013.

On a multi-faceted recording full of texture and painting from a vocal color palette, Duboc who has written for such luminaries as Patti Labelle, Chante Moore and Stephanie Mills knocks one out of the park proving her compositional powers go much deeper than the lame pop oriented r&b tunes the vast majority of us are treated to in the realm of contemporary jazz. Duboc co-wrote all but one song. Along with upright bassist Brian Bromberg, Jimmy Haslip gives an all star performance alongside Jeff Lorber. Flutist Hubert Laws is all ways welcome on any session and his brilliant performance shines on all but three tracks on Smile.

The vast majority of the record is done live and gives an organic and all most live studio warmth to this stellar recording. Most contemporary vocalists that happen to fall in the female category tend to be a bit one note and sadly predictable. Carol Duboc is an accomplished lyricist so the melodies here are built around sophisticated jazz harmonies, well placed r & b grooves and an exotic Latin flavor that pops with vitality which allows Duboc to quietly separate herself from the pack as an artist well deserving some serious consideration for not only consumer purchase but jazz radio air play. For Duboc’s live shows which are getting rave reviews she has enlisted both Jeff Lorber and former YellowJackets bassist Jimmy Haslip as members of her formidable 4tet.

Strong female vocalists are a dime a dozen. Carol Duboc is that rare artist that embraces a special connectivity to each tune, works as a strong lyricist and her mad skills as a vocalist should set her on a path that will have heads turning her way immediately.