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Swingin' For Schuur

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Album Review

Well regarded as one of our greatest living jazz singers, Schuur seems to enjoy album titles created out of puns of her name — prior to this there was Friends for Schuur — but don't let the novelties distract you from this sassy, explosively brassy swing project blending her inventive vocals with Ferguson's blistering trumpet and the ensemble energy of his Big Bop Nouveau Band. Aside from crisp performances by both, the real key to the success here is the unexpected arrangements of standards by various members of Ferguson's band. Two classics generally rendered as intimate ballads — "Autumn Leaves" and "My Romance" — are rendered as easy swaying, frisky finger-snapping romps. The interlude after the first verse on "Autumn Leaves" typifies the way Ferguson lets his guys jam before he steps up and challenges them with a powerful wailing flurry of high notes. "My Romance" finds Schuur moving out of her crystal clear midrange safety zone and reaching the high registers, with a few vocal notes matched at the end by the trumpet. Many of the arrangements are like baritone saxman Denis DiBlasio's twist on "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" — Schuur gliding over a snappy but subdued jazz trio before Ferguson and company burst in with increasingly muscular horn textures, which then push her to emotional heights. Most of the songs incorporate such mood swings, but "Deep Purple" stays a slow, seductive, and subdued ballad the whole way through. Schuur once again proves she's an amazing vocalist who can sing along with the best of them. Is there another singer who's made duet recordings with both Ferguson and B.B. King?


Born: 10 December 1953 in Tacoma, WA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Diane Schuur, who has sometimes been on the periphery of jazz, balances her importance as a dedicated jazz singer with the inclusion of a large dose of pop tunes in her repertoire. Early in her career she had the tendency to screech in her upper register, but with maturity that flaw has largely disappeared and she has become a very impressive singer. Blinded at birth due to a hospital accident, Schuur (who would later be nicknamed "Deedles") imitated singers as a child. She had her first gig at a...
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Swingin' For Schuur, Diane Schuur
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