Though born and raised on the East Coast, where she honed her skills under the tutelage of Anne Marie Moss, Sheila Jordan, Jay Clayton, Barry Harris, Howard Alden and Bill Bittner, singer-guitarist Diane Hubka has always exuded a more distinctly West Coast vibe, particularly on vocals, where she can suggest a slightly warmer Chris Connor. In 2002, while still based in New York, Hubka assembled You Inspire Me, a tribute to Bittner featuring jazz guitar royalty like Bucky Pizzarelli and Romero Lubambo. Following a move to L.A. in 2004, it’s taken her nearly a decade to shape that ’02 disc’s Left Coast counterpart.
Again, Hubka’s guest list includes top-tier guitarists: Anthony Wilson, Mimi Fox, Peter Sprague, David Eastlee, Barry Zweig, John Pisano, Larry Koonse and Ron Eschete (with the leader, on her trusty seven-string, joining Sprague, Koonse and Eschete for one track each). Hubka, often guilty of emphasizing technique over sincerity in her early recordings, has steadily grown more relaxed and heartfelt in both her singing and playing. Indeed, her low-key presence allows her guests’ virtuosity to take center stage throughout this understatedly lovely, standards-centric set. Most notable: Wilson on a brisk “West Coast Blues” and a sassy “Someone Else Is Steppin’ In,” Fox on a sprightly “Moondance,” Koonse on a mellow “Never Let Me Go” and Pisano and Sprague intertwining on Pisano’s sunny “Amanhacer.”