Carol Duboc — Featured Smooth Jazz Artist Archives (2017)

July 2017

Carol Duboc – Making Dreams Vibrant, Alive, and Attainable

Carol Duboc is one of those smooth jazz artists whose music seems to fall neatly between two camps. There’s the Latin-tinged, smooth jazz glide that permeates everything she does, but then there’s also an undeniable soulfulness that reveals an R&B leaning. I guess that’s only to be expected from an artist who began her career working with legends like Maurice White and Teddy Riley.

Duboc hails from Kansas City, MO and was born into a musical family. Her father was a drummer and introduced her to music from an early age. At age four, Duboc was performing the entire musical My Fair Lady for her family. By five, she was playing the piano, and it was not long before she began studying the saxophone. Duboc went on to join the Kansas City Performing Arts Company as a singer and actress.

Duboc moved to Los Angeles to attend USC’s School of Music to study composition, vocal performance, and music engineering. It was a move that led to numerous collaborative recordings with various artists. It’s where a young Carol Duboc had the distinction and privilege of working alongside Maurice White, founder and leader of the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire, and she was, in fact. once signed to his label.

She began her music career as a writer penning hits for people like Patti Labelle, Chante Moore, Stephanie Mills, and a certain Tom Jones! She worked for a while with noted pop/R&B producer Teddy Riley, but her true love lay in jazz, which resulted in Duboc recording, producing, and co-writing her own CD, 2001’s With All That I Am, which she released, like all her albums. on her own Gold Note label. Her debut was a delicate Brazilian-infused album that displayed Duboc’s sensuous vocals to profound effect. Her compositions on the album are sultry, sun-drenched songs that are so, so soulful. The title track is a searing soulful ballad that vamps out to some beautiful, understated phrasing reminiscent of the legendary Anita Baker.

Duboc followed this in 2002 with the self-titled album Duboc, which featured Gerald Albright and Hubert Laws on saxophone and flute respectively, making guest appearances as they had on her debut. They were joined for this recording by two more guests, jazz keyboard legends, Jeff Lorber and Patrice Rushen. Of the twelve tracks on this album, Duboc wrote nine and did three covers, “El Gaucho” by Wayne Shorter and a couple of Burt Bacharach numbers, “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and “Walk On By.”

The year 2005 was a busy year for Duboc. She appeared in the John Travolta and Uma Thurman movie Be Cool (2005) and on the soundtrack for the songs “Best of My Love” and “Lady Marmalade.” She was a guest artist on the compilation albums Ladies Jazz Vol. 4 and 5 featuring Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan. It was also the year she released her third album, All of You.

It would be a couple of years before Duboc released her next album, Songs for Lovers. Like its predecessors, the Songs album was mostly self-penned with a couple of covers. The album featured her regular musical cohort Tim Carmon and her (by now) regular guest artist on flute, Hubert Laws. Apart from Dennis Dodd and Agape Jerry on guitars, there were no other musicians involved.

In contrast, her 2009 release, Burt Bacharach Songbook, finds Duboc back with a live band and the seemingly ever-present Laws on flute who beautifully decorates Duboc’s warm vocals as they roll through a set of Bacharach standards. Back in the day, there was a unique pairing between Lester Young and Lady Day. At times, the interplay between Laws and Duboc reminds one of that era.

The year 2013 sees Duboc reunited with Jeff Lorber on the Smile album. This album was written following the break-up of Duboc’s marriage and contains a collection of deep and meaningful songs which amazingly never get depressing!

The followup album Coloured Glasses continued her partnership with Jeff Lorber and truly settles into Lorber-inspired smooth jazz territory with all the tracks being written by Duboc and the keyboardist. From the opening track, the mesmerising “Hypnotic,” this album continues Duboc’s charting of her personal journey first explored on Smile. The ability she displays in capturing heartbreak is so recognisable, it’s scary.

Her latest album, Open the Curtains, is an all-female affair featuring her long-time friend Patrice Rushen amongst a coterie of the top woman players from the scene today. Among the credits is Mindi Abair on sax, the formidable drummer Queen Cora Coleman, and the late Prince’s stalwart, Sheila E on percussion.

Duboc says of this, her 8th album, “During the time when I was working on this album my nine-year-old daughter wrote her first song and shared it with me.” The Los Angeles-based musician goes on to say, “It was so touching because, in her lyrics, she said she wanted the Universe to see her as important, and she wanted to feel loved. After hearing her song, I immediately thought ‘Open the curtains and shine! Honey, you are important!’ I want her to remember that her gift comes from God and that staying humble and putting God first no matter what is the most important thing in life by far.”

Duboc and her daughter were able to come full circle as they recorded the compelling track together. The lyrics to the inspiring album opener state “Open the curtains, let us hear your voice … as long as it is your choice!”

Carol Duboc is uniquely talented in many heart-warming ways. She has an open heart and tells her story in a magical honest way with a warm, seductive, charming, and crystalline voice. Truly a treasure, we look forward to more from this songstress in years to come. – Steve Giachardi

To view Carol Duboc’s complete discography, please visit www.carolduboc.com.