CADENCE (A Sleepin' Bee)
Bud Koppman

Here is a very enjoyable mainstream disc that illustrates how much sincerity and honesty can be projected and entrance the listener. My taste recently has been running to more adventurous music, but this album, although falling into the “interpretive” category and using standard jazz harmony and rhythms, nevertheless caught and held my interest. Diane Marino is new to me, but if this smoking debut disc is any indication, she is destined for great things. She is much more than just another pretty face doing some singing and playing some piano. She has a clear vision of what she likes, what her strengths are, and how to best put it together. A Sleepin’ Bee is almost eighty minutes long, but did not feel like it.

The range of tunes is very wide, moving from the first track, “This Can’t Be Love”, that just explodes out of the gate, to the three Brazilian tunes (sung in very good Brazilian Portuguese) and on to the ballad/torch songs “You Don’t Know What Love Is”, “Don’t Misunderstand”, and “Angel Eyes”. Marino is a very interesting singer, with a clear, inviting voice that is accurate and which made me smile. The fact that she can make this wide range of tunes work is impressive, and she is very careful with her enunciation and phrasing. The slow tunes mentioned above are particularly telling, being about as far away from the uptempo swinging tunes as you can get. She evokes the ambiguity in “Don’t Misunderstand” without giving it away, sizzles and simmers on “Angel Eyes” and is very sexy on “You Don’t Know What Love Is”.

The band performs much more than just backup, with Jessup taking solo honors whenever he plays. His range is also very wide and he uses completely different sounds as the tunes demand. The rhythm section of Brown and Marino (Diane’s husband) is very tight, always moving things forward and never letting the energy flag. In fact, the whole band is tight, having internalized the arrangements and just playing with a feeling of joy and fun. Marino does not try to be a virtuosic soloist, but rather always stays within herself, with the keyboard supporting her singing. She does hold her own, however, when soloing on “My Sister Sadie”, and always provides tasty comping when Jessup takes over. It seems that Marino has a deep love and affinity for Brazilian music. Aside from going to the trouble to study Portuguese and take lessons in pronunciation, she actively promotes the repertoire, getting inside the music. The music business can be unfair, with very talented people being neglected while others are hyped to the sky. It is my hope that someone at a major label will listen and give Diane Marino (and the quartet) a chance. Recommended.