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"Vanity CD Turns Out Spectacularly"
Orange County Register - December 26, 2004

Talk about your diamonds in the rough:

It started out as a simple vanity project as schoolteacher Becky Gonzales Hughes, spouse of erstwhile bassist Luther Hughes of Westminster, approached her 50th birthday. Here was a woman who had spent all this time with her musician husband and his musician friends, but kept her own musical talents more or less in the closet - or at least in the classroom, singing with students.

She shocked hubby when she asked for her present - she wanted to make a jazz CD. And she did, abetted by Luther on bass and local notables Llew Matthews (keyboard), Ron Escheté (guitar) and Paul Kreibich (drums and percussion).

The result, Luther said, sounds better than 90 percent of what he hears from professional singers as he travels around on his gigs. So surprisingly good, in fact, that the disc, "Late Bloomer," is being released commercially.

We have to agree with the decision. Becky's clear, pliable voice reminds me a bit of Diane Schuur at her best, and what a cool choice of tunes: "Lover Man" is among the most compelling cuts, and Becky's affinity for the marvelous melodies of Antonio Carlos Jobim is evident in such numbers as "Meditation" and "How Insensitive." Not surprisingly, her top-flight cohorts are superb.

Meanwhile, Luther has released his long-awaited "Cannonball-Coltrane Project" disc, featuring tunes the two great saxophonists did on their 1959 release together (with some originals added). Want a preview? The quintet plays Jan. 7-8 (two shows each night) at the Orange County Performing Arts Center's Jazz Club. Call (714) 556-2787 or visit for details.

Check out these releases, and others by locally based and other independent musicians at Stan Hollon's It's a great way to try out that new computer you got for Christmas. We've said it before, but we can't say it enough - jazz is alive and well in Orange County, but it needs your support. In other words, buy something!