Dallyin' with Diane
When Diane Bessell (vocals) met Norris Clement (pianist and arranger) in the late 90s there were sparks - not just of love, but of a shared passion for music. Diane, brought up on Broadway shows and singing non-professionally in her youth, soon began to take singing lessons and eventually sing professionally in the SF Bay Area and on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. Norris, a retired university economics professor, had worked many years as a professional jazz musician in his youth, beginning at age 13. Then, after retirement from the University, he returned seriously to his passions of composing, arranging and "gigging". This CD is a joyous celebration of their collaboration over the past few years. The music utilizes two classic formats: 1) a piano-vocal duo on six tracks, allowing Diane and Norris to express their interpretations of timeless ballads in a freer and more contemplative style, and 2) a vocal-piano/bass/drums configuration, utilized mainly on the swing and Latin tracks, introducing new colors, rhythms and feelings into the eclectic song mix. The rhythm section comprised of John Wiitala on bass and Vince Lateano on drums-- both "first call musicians" in the SF Bay area -- added immeasurably to the mood and success of the recording sessions and the final product. For vocalists these days there is arguably a fine line between being an old fashioned "chick singer", a "cabaret artist" and a "jazz vocalist". Diane makes no claim to any particular title here as her influences run from the classically trained, Dawn Upshaw, to Diana Krall and Bobby Short. Norris's tastes run from Bach and Eric Satie to Bill Evans, Art Tatum and Gonzalo Rubalcalba. If you listen carefully, you'll find a bit of each of these folks in this album. So, where did the album title (and introductory/closing song) come from? One dictionary definition of "dally" is "to act playfully; especially: to play amorously". And that is exactly what Diane and Norris do.