The Jazz Writer Reivew

It’s worth noting anytime a jazz vocalist delivers an album of original music, rather than reimagining standards or performing jazz arrangements of popular music. That’s what we get with Carol Duboc’s Colored Glasses (Gold Note Music, 2015).

Producer Duboc sings lead on all tracks and background on several. Co-producer Jeff Lorber handles keyboards, piano, bass, programming and guitrs. Other players are Vinnie Colaiuta, drums; Jimmy Haslip, electric bass; Brian Bromberg, acoustic bass; Lenny Castro, percussion; Hubert Laws, alto flute on “Celestial Skies”; Eric Marienthal, soprano sax on “Hypnotic”; Paul Jackson Jr., electric guitars on “Spinning,” “Wavelength,” “Breathing,” “Hypnotic” and “Code Red”; Michael Thompson, guitars on “Celestial Skies,” “Walking in My Sleep,” “Colored Glasses” and solo on “Breathing”; Dave Mann, horn arrangements and all horns on “Every Shade of Blue,” “Trajectory” and “Wavelength”; Jeff Pescetto, additional background vocals on “Trajectory”; and Lori and Sharon Perry, additional background vocals on “Walking in My Sleep.”

Horns are brought in to add depth “Every Shade of Blue.” The contradiction is that the lyrics speak of longing, sadness, despair, but the music is full of joy, life, energy. The union is an ironic, yet pleasing audio experience.

“Wavelength” is accompanied by an uplifting video, available on YouTube. The song is both romantic and global. Duboc sings of a personal relationship where the two people are mentally connected. However, one can easily expand the meaning beyond that parameter and consider a connection among family, friends or community. Mann’s horn arrangement and Haslip’s riveting bass line enhance the piece.

The ensemble gets funky with the finale, “Code Red.” The instrumental side is signature Lorber. Duboc sings of being so deeply in love, she knows she’s heading for disaster and calls for help. During the bridge after second verse and chorus, Duboc, Lorber and Haslip are in unison for a series of low-end phrases. Sprinkled throughout the lyrics are twists on public safety announcements, such as a spin on “stop, drop and roll.”

Colored Glasses has tremendous balance throughout. Even without a lot of instrumental solos, every musician stands out, but no one is overpowering. Even when Duboc is singing, one can easily hear Jackson’s rhythm guitar, or Colaiuta’s mixing it up on the kit.

Duboc and Lorber co-wrote all songs for Colored Glasses. Duboc has written or arranged for several artists, including Patti LaBelle, Chante Moore, Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire, George Duke and Ricky Lawson. Her big screen debut was in the film, Be Cool. She’s also appeared on several Ladies’ Jazz all-star compilations alongside Sarah Vaughan, Jane Monheit, Diana Krall, Dinah Washington and others. A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Duboc started playing piano at age 5 and saxophone at 8. She moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, where she majored in vocal performance and music composition, and minored in music engineering.