Dianne Brooks: From the Heart & Soul
(Panda Digital 2021)
Dianne Brooks was a powerhouse singer, a first call studio singer in both Toronto and Los Angeles. Producer Andrew A. Melzer is releasing some of her best work in this new album, including three tracks recorded live in 1983 and newly rediscovered.
It's easy to see why she was so sought after as a vocalist. Her voice has power, range and expression, and her instincts as an artist are gold. She's more than capable of vocal acrobatics, but uses that power judiciously and with taste.
The late Dianne Brooks was born in New Jersey, where she started singing in the church choir at the age of three. In the mid-1950s, she joined a group called The Three Playmates, who released four singles in 1957.
She moved to Toronto not long after, where she gigged regularly at clubs like The Bluenote and The Croq D'Or, adding TV and radio appearances for the CBC and CTV. She went on to a busy career touring, and recorded her debut album in 1970.
As a backup singer, she toured with artists like Bette Midler, Boz Scaggs, Dusty Springfield, and Count Basie, and also appeared on tracks with Anne Murray and Funkadelic during the 1970s. She was part of various jazz and RnB groups in Toronto, including Dr. Music, and Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass.
The songs on the recording are an interesting mix, from the bouncy pop-jazz of Trying to Get Back To You to the lush and polished piano ballad, Give Me One More chance. She turns to a smooth jazz finish for Paul McCartney's I'm Carrying, and straight up RnB for Can't Get Enough of You.
Three of the tracks were recorded live at George's Spaghetti House in 1983 with the Doug Riley Trio, including two Gershwin tunes, and Venice Breeze, with English lyrics by Dianne and Meltzer.
Dianne continued to gig in the GTA, and passed away in a Toronto hospital in 2005.
The album is a fitting memory of a great talent.
All I Need Is You is a standout track.