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Diane Marino: Just Groovin’

Sidestepping the jazz and Brazilian standards that filled her two previous albums, vocalist and pianist Diane Marino has instead culled a dozen pop hits from the early- and mid-’60s. She calls them “songs of substance.” Hmmm. While substantiality is subjective, it’s tough to consider “So Much in Love,” “Walking in the Rain,” “Baby I’m Yours” or even the best of the bunch, Brian Wilson’s “The Warmth of the Sun,” particularly momentous. Still, all 12 are catchy tunes made decidedly more interesting by the bluesy Marino and an assortment of first-rate guests.

Abandoning the intimate quartet sound that shaped her prior discs, she surrounds two longstanding bandmates-bassist (and husband) Frank Marino and drummer Chris Brown-with banks of horns and strings and, with assistance from Jeff Steinberg, crafts several impressively swingin’ arrangements. “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,” “Baby It’s You” and “Yes I’m Ready” are significantly elevated by Houston Person sax solos, while trombonist Wycliffe Gordon likewise lifts “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and “Hello Stranger” several notches. But the tastiest of these confections is a brassy reworking of “Groovin'” that, mirroring the easygoing lilt of the 1967 original, pairs Marino with the song’s author and originator, the Rascals’ pioneering blue-eyed soul man Felix Cavaliere, still sounding terrific at age 65.

Originally Published