You Inspire Me
I'm not usually a fan of tribute albums, but have to hand it to Diane Hubka for coming up with something new and clever. On You Inspire Me (VSOJAZ), created in honor of her friend and mentor, guitarist Bill Bittner, Hubka teams with seven of the jazz guitar world's most accomplished virtuosos, including Paul Bollenback, John Hart, Jack Wilkins, Gene Bertoncini, Romero Lubambo, Bucky Pizzarelli and Frank Vignola. Though Hubka's distinctive voice, with its hint of Bev Kenney discordance, is an acquired taste, its inherent vulnerability seems well suited to this easy-going, guitar-driven outing. As usual, Hubka's selections are refreshingly eclectic, blending Blossom Dearie, Tommy Wolf, Bob Dorough and Peter Nero with Mercer, Carmichael, Rodgers, Hart and Jobim. She unites with Pizzarelli and Vignola for a leisurely stroll through Nero's "Sunday in New York" and an appropriately dreamy "Blue Moon." She and John Hart have a wail of a time chasing each other all over the chart on Dorough's delightful "You Inspire Me" and they effectively capture the percolated playfulness that Jackie and Roy originally brought to Tommy Wolf's title tune. Other pairings are, however, less fulfilling, particularly her alliances with Bollenback on Mercer and Mancini's "Moment to Moment" and Lubambo on Dearie's "Inside a Silent Tear," both of which fall disappointingly flat.