Saturday, December 3, 2011

SSJ All Stars: From California with Love

SSJ-USA Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: From California with Love

Shortly after the horrific earthquake that struck Japan on March 11, 2011, SSJ-USA Records’ Bill Reed contacted vocalist/guitarist Diane Hubka — who recently had completed a 12-city tour of Japan — about a fundraising project, with proceeds to be donated to the quake victims. This album is the result of that effort. The well-known singers and musicians who enthusiastically came on board accepted no fees for their performances; the same was true of the companies and services that supported the project.

All the tracks are new and previously unreleased, and all present themes of hope and “positivity.” All of the performances are exceptional; clearly, the hearts of all concerned were deeply involved in the project. Vocalists abound, in keeping with the desire to make the tribute personal; the roster includes Hubka, Sue Raney, Tierney Sutton, Frankie Randall, Kurt Reidenbach, Johnny Holiday, Leslie Lewis, Jim Cox, Dick Noel, Pinky Winters and the late Chris Conners (via a bit of recording tape from her manager). Pianists Alan Broadbent, Christian Jacob and Jim Cox provide soulful accompaniment, as do other supporting instrumentalists.

The song list is further evidence of the desired theme and tone, with selections such as “Blue Skies,” “Sweet and Lovely,” “Here’s to Life,” “We Can Work It Out” You’ll Never Walk Alone” and many others.

The result is a wonderful album, with warm and earnest work from all involved.

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