Bio | Diane Armesto | Jazz Singer

PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

 

 

The daughter of composer/Eastman School of Music graduate, John Armesto (John Burke), and of soprano Isabelle Rinker Armesto (prior manager of Buffalo Chamber Music Society booking musicians from Carnegie Hall and around the world), Diane Armesto has an early back ground in classical music. At six years old Diane started piano lessons. At around age nine she was playing violin. Around this same time, Diane began listening to Peggy Lee and Cannonball Adderley. As a teenager, Diane’s record collection included LPs by Mile Davis, Chet Baker, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans — and recordings with arrangements by Ernie Wilkins, Torre Zito, Claus Ogerman, and Quincy Jones's "Walking In Space”.

 

In her twenties, Diane Armesto moved from New York to California with aspirations of attending UCLA to study screen-writing. It was then that she met and eventually became involved with jazz trombonist Frank Rosolino who at the time was living with mutual friends of theirs in the San Fernando Valley. 

 

Appreciative of Armesto’s keen ear for music, Rosolino delighted in exposing Diane to the many greats he knew and for whom he had the highest regard. At a very early age Diane Armesto had the honor and privilege of listening to and being in the company of band leaders and arrangers such as Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Quincy Jones, Michelle LeGrand; pianists Horace Silver, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans; vibraphonist Milt Jackson who had been a school mate of Frank’s at Miller High in Detroit; bassists Ray Brown; drummers Art Blakey, Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones; saxophonists James Moody, Stan Getz, “Cannonball” Adderley; trumpet players Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Chet Baker; trombonists Kai Winding, JJ Johnson, Jimmy Cleveland; harmonica player Toots Thielemans; singers Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Sarah Vaughan, June Christy, Carmen McRae — the list is endless. Conversations with musicians and singers such as this would prove to be invaluable.

 

Recognizing Diane Armesto’s talent for writing poetry, Frank Rosolino also encouraged her to compose a lyric to an orchestral composition, “Violets”, written by Dutch composer Jerry Van Rooyen. This music, dedicated to Mr. Rosolino,  had been recorded by him with the Metropole Orchestra in Holland, 1975. Diane Armesto (AKA Diane Rosolino), was present during this session. Afterward, Frank repeatedly told his fiancee the music was calling for words. With time, Diane created a lyric and “Violets”, became “Once I loved". After listening, Rosolino enthusiastically  took Armesto to Sage & Sound Recording studios in Hollywood, California to overdub the words. This would be Diane’s first attempt at singing. Diane's vocal rendition of this song has yet to be released.

 

A self--taught  burgeoning  Jazz drummer, passionate but ultimately uncertain about pursuing a career in music herself, Diane Armesto was content to be Frank Rosolino’s manager. With time, she became a booking agent, serving other renowned musicians such as trumpeter Conte Candoli, saxophonists Rudolf Johnson (with Ray Charles), Bob Berg and Joe Farrell, pianists Larry Willis and Cedar Walton, drummer Billy Higgins, organist Jimmy McGriff — and more.

 

It was during her protracted recovery from the tragic death of Frank Rosolino, that Diane Armesto eventually returned to the world of music she loves. With a passion now to express herself as a vocalist, Armesto formed her own group. With time and enough experience, Diane Armesto would become known by many musicians, critics and fans for her expressive contralto voice, her unique approach to singing jazz, her talent for writing  lyrics - and eventually music.

 

“Upon hearing Diane you are likely to become at once absorbed by the depth of her emotional intensities, her contrasting dynamics, her opulent tonal shadings. Diane communicates music that rewards the attentive listener.” - Mike DiMartino; musician and CD annotator 

 

“Warm, way laid back phrasing.” - Mike DeBlase; musician and critic for City News

"And if, according to the old axiom, everything in a jazz singer's life pours out into her interpretation of a song, there is almost too much to pack into Armesto's repertoire." - Ron Netsky; City News

 

During live performances and on recordings throughout the years, Diane Armesto has worked with many notables inspiring the following commentaries:

 

“Diane Armesto is a distinguished jazz singer and song stylist who always approaches her work with deep respect for both the music and her fellow musicians. From a professional perspective she is reliable and well regarded by both musicians and presenters.” - Pianist and SteepleChase recording artist Harold Danko; associated with Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and Lee Konitz AND Professor of Jazz Studies at Eastman School of music.

 

“Diane is a real perfectionist. She has excellent taste in material and in musicians, and makes sure that the vocals, instrumental solos and group interaction are blended in a manner that achieves the most rewarding musical results. She gets along well with those she works with. She sings from the heart. Her primary intent is to sing the song.” - Bill Dobbins; pianist, composer, arranger and Professor of Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media at Eastman School of music.

 

Diane Armesto is currently mastering and manufacturing her latest recordings in New York City. Of Armesto’s work George Coleman (saxophonist associated with Miles Davis and B.B. King), has confirmed the following:

 

“I have both listened to and appreciated Diane Armesto’s recordings as vocalist performing with such stellar musicians as Eric Alexander and David Hazeltine. I also admire her CD, Ballads with Strings, arranged by Bill Dobbins. As a singer, Diane Armesto is not only dedicated to preserving the great standard songs of our time, she also creates original works — well crafted lyrics for songs composed by other musicians — including my own. She is also quite capable at producing quality albums in the studio. I find myself eagerly anticipating the release of her latest works.”

 

Finally, in progress is Diane Armesto's book about legendary jazz trombonist Frank Rosolino who comitted suicide in 1978.  Due to Diane's having been Frank's life partner for many years (during which time she lovingly helped raise his only two biological children, Justin and Jason), numerous people have deemed Diane Armesto the "true gate keeper" of what actually led up to Rosolino's horrific ending. In her book, Armesto tells the story of Frank Rosolino's fascinating professional career and his tumultuous personal life as he himself told it to her -- and she lived it. In Quincy Jones's signed statement to Diane Armesto, he writes: 

 

“Having known Frank Rosolino for many years and being one of the biggest fans of this world-class musician, I have experienced his and Diane’s close relationship during the 70’s and her enduring dedication and devotion to Frank throughout the many years since his death. I am confident that the account she has to offer of Frank’s life is both credible and of tremendous value to the music world.”

 

© 2019 by Diane Armesto

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I See Goodbye in Your Eyes - Diane Armesto
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