Pianist Jimmy Rowles once famously remarked, “Burt Bacharach’s tunes sound like third alto parts.” Well, don’t try to sell singer Carol Duboc on that notion. Based on the effort she expended on her latest album, she’s quite comfortable with the songwriter who hails from Carol’s hometown, Kansas City. That effort extended to producing the session; doing all the arrangements; adding one of her own songs to the mix; and above all, securing flutist Hubert Laws to be principal soloist and gap-filler.
Their music-making pays off handsomely. While Bacharach’s rangy lines and awkward intervals post a challenge to most singers, Ms Duboc is not your average vocalist. She boasts a clear soprano range — so necessary to scale the frequent Bacharach peaks — plus firm intonation, as well as the ability to swing. In short, she’s an intelligent jazz stylist.
Duboc also possesses a warm, soothing alto range, which she puts to good use on her original bossa, “My Melody,” and especially on “A House Is Not A Home.” She takes “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” slower than most, plumbing its depth and finding a surprising poignancy in the tune, turning it into a ear-opener. “Wives and Lovers” is also given unique treatment: it has bookends in 3/4, but they bracket a straightforward, swinging 4/4. She also turns “The Look of Love” into a seductive swinger. Listen carefully to the beginning of “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again:” following a clever, economical instrumental introduction, the first time Duboc sings the title, the first word, “I’ll,” slides off her tongue just like a Hubert Laws flute lick.
Whether that was planned, or a matter of osmosis, it makes for a convenient segue. Laws goes well beyond his second billing and very nearly dominates the session. His timbre is ideal for her voice; her gaps are custom-ma de for his pithy comments. The same kind of rapport is heard elsewhere: listen for the comping support from pianist Joe Cartwright; guitarist Danny Embrey; and particularly bassist Bob Bowman. Must be something in that K.C. water.
Thank you, Carol…3rd alto parts never sounded so good.