Carlo Ditta has been a producer for more than 30 years; his company, Orleans Records, specializes in blues, R&B, jazz, soul, and funk by “overlooked or under-recorded artists whose works are now recognized as important, and colorful strains of the rich musical fabric of New Orleans,” according to John Sinclair, the insurgent poet and frequent Ditta collaborator. But Ditta, also a guitarist, singer, and songwriter, didn’t make his debut as a solo artist until 2014, with What I’m Talkin’ About. His new album, Hungry for Love, explores the varieties and vagaries of love romantic, erotic, parental, and spiritual. “We’re all hungry for love, we’re all lonely inside,” Ditta says. “All the songs have something to do with love and loss. It’s an album of longing to understand love.”
Like its predecessor, Hungry for Love is a self-produced mix of Ditta originals—the steamy title track and four others—and covers both familiar (Earl Stanley’s “A Gypsy Woman Told Me,” and the 1965 proto-funk classic “Pass the Hatchet”) and obscure (John Fred and His Playboy Band’s “Agnes English”), and one traditional number, “The House of the Rising Sun,” a staple of Ditta’s live performances. The album is steeped in the R&B and funk of the records that came out of Cosimo Matassa’s studios in the ’50s and ’60s, but it sounds fresh, contemporary, and utterly personal. Ditta’s sidemen include veterans he’s worked with for years, in the studio and on stage—Earl Stanley on bass; saxophonists Andrew Bernard, Jerry Jumonville, and Johnny Pennino; Rick Stelma on keyboards; and, on drums, Anthony Donado and Freddy Staehle. Backed by these ace players, Ditta delivers personality-plus vocals that vividly express the songs’ varied moods: horny, yearning, amused, and anguished. A late bloomer as a recording artist, Carlo Ditta has more than made up for lost time.