Diane Marino is an artist worthy of your attention, for her ability to combine the talents of a swinging pianist, a vocalist that communicates with feeling and warmth, and an arranger who can package the music in a fresh and intriguing manner that can grab your interest.
In today’s diffuse musical world, with remotely varied styles that lack a concise emphasis on melody and the classic forms, it’s important to have a lively presentation of the great standards to keep these great songs invigorating and in the moment. This album from Diane Marino serves those purposes well. It should be an important addition to your collection.
“Loads Of Love” is Diane Marino’s fifth album, all on the M & M label. A native New Yorker, Diane attended the High School for the Performing Arts and Mannes College of Music for classical piano. Her first album, “A Sleeping Bee” included a jazz quartet, playing standards, the next, “On The Street Where You Live”, had jazz, but also with a Brazilian and Latin flair, while “Just Groovin’” reinterpreted pop songs of the ‘60’s with a larger ensemble and guest artists. Select songs from these three CD’s were re-mastered for the 2011 offering “From The Heart”. They all received widespread air play and international exposure. Diane also has performed around the country, in festivals, jazz clubs, and cabaret settings like New York City’s Metropolitan Room. This wealth of experience and broad outlook can now be synthesized in this current album, with a focus back to her jazz roots.
Helping that focus and contributing mightily to the proceedings is Houston Person, who appears as a guest artist on the tenor sax, and more important, has lent a creative direction as producer of the album. For those who don’t know him, Person is a towering figure from the classic generation of the “tough tenor”, with a robust yet sweet bluesy sound. But equally important here, as a producer he has a sweepingly broad knowledge of the American popular songbook, and an approach that focuses on the melody. This approach combines neatly with Diane Marino’s sensibilities and they’ve known each other for several years and collaborated before. On this album, they join together to explore the ballads and blues. These aspects of jazz inform the best sides of Diane’s interpretations of these standards, with her own arrangements that put a little individual spin on the chestnuts.
In addition to Diane Marino’s piano and Houston Person’s tenor sax, the band includes musicians with whom Diane has performed frequently in her current Nashville base, and beyond, and the comfortable familiarity adds a soothing and tight level to the presentation. The bassist is Diane’s husband and musical partner, too, Frank Marino, Chris Brown lays down a solid groove on the drums, and Pat Bergeson appears on guitar on several tracks. And another special guest is trumpeter George Tidwell, who adds an element of beauty in his appearance on “Someone You’ve Loved”.
The program of songs on the album include some well-known Richard Rodgers and Cole Porter you should know, some less prevalent nuggets of the songbook, and even some Ellington, all conveyed with an intimacy of warmth and interpretation.
The title track “Loads Of Love” comes from the legendary later Rodgers show “No Strings”, originally performed by Diahann Carroll and popularized to jazz audiences by Shirley Horn. Indeed, there are several Shirley Horn connections here, obvious in Horn’s coy stylistic influence on Marino, and also in the material, like Johnny Pate’s “Someone You’ve Loved’ which Shirley Horn also recorded as “Have You Tried To Forget”, or Jimmy McHugh’s “I Just Found Out About Love”. Diane also does wonders with Burton Lane’s “Too Late Now”, a haunting tune from the film “Royal Wedding” performed more frequently these days. Some less familiar Ellington songs from his post war years, “It Shouldn’t Happen To A Dream” and “Take Love Easy” are given intense interpretations by Marino, check out her jazzy piano, and she bravely adds her own stamp to Lil Armstrong’s “Just For A Thrill”, besting Ray Charles, and tackles Johnny Hartman’s stamp on “I See Your Face Before Me”.
All in all, it’s a daunting presentation for an artist to endeavor. But with Diane Marino’s compelling piano style and exquisite vocals, this album presents a flavor that while being classic and standard is also adventuresome and delivers a unique personal sound.
WKCR-FM, New York City