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A singer-guitarist who plays with a jazz attitude

Diane Hubka will play at the Pasadena Presbyterian Church Aug. 25.

August 18, 2012|By Kirk Silsbee
  • Singer-guitarist Diane Hubka at Pasadena Presbyterian Church. Hubka will be performing at Pasadena Presbyterian Church on August 24.
Singer-guitarist Diane Hubka at Pasadena Presbyterian… (Tim Berger / Staff…)

Some kind of poetic conjunction will occur when jazz singer Diane Hubka performs a recital at Pasadena Presbyterian Church Saturday. Though she works as the church's accountant, what makes the pairing compelling is her lovely sound set in a sanctuary known for its majestic high-ceilinged acoustics.

Hubka has a medium-dynamic alto voice with an unmistakable sparkle. Her tone is bell-like in its clarity and her diction is impeccable. Listeners can understand her no matter how brisk the tempo of the music.

As a result, Hubka acts as something of an X-ray machine for songs. Dimitri Tiompkin and Ned Washington's “Wild is the Wind,” on her current album, “Diane Hubka Goes to the Movies” (18th & Vine Records), is a case in point. It contains the line: “Give me more than one caress, satisfy my hungriness....” From any other singer, the grammatical fudging to achieve a rhyme might not be so glaring. Still, she has the ability to put her stamp on any song she essays.

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The album is a well-chosen collection of movie songs that skirt the obvious.

“I tend to like more obscure songs that are at least as good as the well-known standards,” she discloses. “Blossom Dearie's ‘They Say It's Spring,' Billy Strayhorn's ‘A Flower is a Lovesome Thing' and ‘Moon Ray' by Artie Shaw.' There are so many great songs that just aren't sung.”

A SoCal resident since 2004, Hubka was raised in Western Maryland. One of the dividends of her two decades in New York City was personal instruction from vocal jazz legend Sheila Jordan. The unclassifiable Jordan raised a daughter as a single mother and maintained her singing while working in an office.

“She told me, ‘Don't ever let anybody make you feel bad because you have a day job,'” Hubka recalls. “‘You do whatever you have to do to keep your music going.' I never forgot that.”

Saturday's concert, a benefit for the church, will find Hubka in the company of guitarist/reed player Dan Sawyer, pianist Joe Bagg, bassist Jeff D'Angelo and drummer Sinclair Lott.

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