Diane Schuur is one of the great jazz singers in the world today. I've seen her a couple of times before and while she's not quite Ella Fitzgerald, her style & sound are very similar and she is definitely in that same league. (It's like comparing Mickey Mantle to Willy Mays; both are world class greats, but one is just a bit more amazing) This is absolutely stunning singing.
On this night she and her stellar quartet were working out tunes live that they are recording next week, so this show was basically a rehearsal, which is why she was playing such a small venue. Possibly because of this the show wasn't as good as the others I've seen from her, but it still had it's magic moments.
One problem for me was that she was reading the lyrics to most of the songs they did, which normally isn't that big a deal, except that Diane Schuur is completely blind and was reading by BRAILE while she was singing!
Maybe I'm being naive about this, but it seemed to hold back her ability to relax and really stretch out the songs. Her singing was still excellent but it felt slightly stiff and technical for most of the show, and usually she is a MASTER of the groove, a GREAT song interpreter and in general a vocal genius.
Also, she did not play the piano for most of the show, which she did exclusively when I'd seen her before. Last night she sat on a chair with her hands flying over sheet music on a music stand. She is a great piano player as well and it seemed to me that she looked a bit lost with her hands without it.
But after about the third song I just closed my eyes and listened to the glory that is a voice of that caliber and things got better, and as so often happens, she seemed to get more relaxed as the show went on and the sounds got better & better.
For the last few songs she did move over to the piano and dug into a few classics and her singing really sounded more free and easy, and by the end of the 70 minute set the crowd was on it's feet.
This type of show is NOT exploritory jazz, but classic standards; I heard great versions of Danny Boy, A Few Of My Favorite Things & Besame Mucho. Her band was reserved but excellent and everything they played was smooth, swinging and finger-snapping groovy!
This isn't the type of music I have ever really been into, but when I began going to more jazz shows a number of years ago I saw a couple of the vocal GREATS (like D. Schuur and Sarah Vaughn) and discovered that while this music is OK on record, it is absolutely transforming to be in the same room with such a beautiful, velvet, powerful, spectacular, PERFECT voice.
It's like standing at the foot of a giant redwood tree; it's humbling, amazing and leaves you feeling happy to exist in the same world that can create such glorious things.
This was not the best show I've seen from Schuur but it was still beautiful music performed by a master. It was great to be in the same room with her and I walked out feeling that I had once again stood at the foot of a GIANT.
Even though this is not the type of music we generally talk about around here I would reccomend seeing Diane Schuur any chance you get. I doubt you'd regret it.
I agree wholeheartedly, she is a treasure for sure, one of the living greats. Nice read. We always try to catch her when she's around. (maybe 2 or 3 times/yr)
I have a funny story about her.
My husband works for Hertz. (yes, THAT Hertz. lol) Couple yrs again a couple, including a blind woman, were renting a car & Jay (husb) was trying to give them a little TLC because they were so nice & charming & funny, he personally brought the car up front so she wouldn't have to walk to the parking garage.
So they were thanking him left & right & joking around at the same time too. And the woman says, starts ad libbing this "thank you Hertz guy...." silly song when she gets in the car & he's like WOW, did anyone ever tell you, you have a REAAAAAAAALLLY nice voice??? & he goes on & on like some stoopid country bumpkin. Of course she must find this amusing, so proceeds to sing some classic song (he couldn't name it but did recognize it) Of course he blabbers over & over how great she is & then asks her if she's ever sang professionally. They laugh & she says yes, occasionally. And the husband writes down a number, tells him to call it (it's the TEENY club where they were performing) and hooked us up with PRIMO seats & told Jay she would be working on HIS song & would perform it that night.
So he's all excited & calls me a bit later & tells me the story & I'm like YOU DUMBASS!!!!!!! Are you kidding me????
He did not make the connection that it was Diane Schuur & her husband/rd mgr as they go by different names & she really was not all dolled up in her stage clothes.
OMG they must have thought he was an clueless idiot and ironically, his dad is a HUUUUUUUUGE fan & we've seen her so it's not like he didn't KNOW.
(Unfortunately, at the very last minute, she show was canceled as Diane apparently came down w/a bad case of food poisoning.)
That's a great story, and I'm sure she thought he was charming, not a clueless idiot.
I've always believed that greatness transends style, and I think ANYONE would appreciate someone like Schuur if they were in the room.
It's good to know Zoners are still seaking the "kind".
I think that's the thing about people who love the GD, as a group I think we collectively *appreciate* GOOD music and real talent, transcending genres. (actually my husb is not what ya call a big dh in his own right but more or less by marraige.)