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Bebop Spoken There

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Album Review: Diane Schuur – Running On Faith

Diane Schuur (vocals, piano); Ernie Watts (tenor and sop sax); Kye Palmer (trumpet, flugelhorn); Thom Rotella (guitar); Bruce Lett (bass); Kendall Kay (drums)

I don't ever remember reviewing a CD where the singer's personality came across so well. Ms Schuur sings as if she really means it, occasionally speaking lines, adding a chuckle here and there, and indulging in short fun scats and wordless singing. The notes tell us that she has been blind from birth and the track There Is Always One More Time refers to blindness, with lyrics saying that it's better to be blind than not to use your eyes to see the good parts of life. I guess that she has learned her craft by ear and memory, but I did get to wonder if the real books are printed in Braille*. But I digress.

Ms Schuur, a multi-Grammy-Award winning vocalist who hails from Tacoma, near Washington USA, grew up steeped in jazz by listening to her parent’s record collection. 'Discovered' by Stan Getz at the 1979 Monterey Jazz Festival, she later collaborated with artists such as B.B. King, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder as well as an award-winning album with the Count Basie Orchestra.

For her first release in six years, the songs chosen were based on the work of some of her heroes such as Miles Davis, Carole King, Paul Simon, and Percy Mayfield.  Ms Schuur comments ' I've been focusing on the condition of our world, about what is, about what can be.'

The whole CD made very good listening and the stand-out tracks for me were  Let It Be which starts quietly with voice and piano then builds to a  soulful sound from the whole band with a stirring coda of  'go anywhere we want.'  Everybody Looks Good At The Starting Line is a humorous take on the course of life's journey; The Chicken is an instrumental with wordless singing where everyone, including drums, solos.

Swing Low Sweet Chariot is the final track, with swinging piano and voice, and the only track where our singer allows herself a piano solo. She generously lets her instrumentalists have long solos on many of the other tracks, notably on All Blues, with its trumpet solo then trumpet and guitar in harmony. then more impressive solos with the legendary Ernie Watts outstanding.

The rest of the tracks are: Walking On A Tightrope; The Danger Zone; Something So Right (Paul Simon); The Sun Will Shine On You; This Bitter Earth; Running On Faith; Way Over Yonder (Carole King).

 Highly recommended. The album was released in May on the Jazzheads label and is available everywhere. 
Ann Alex

* Diane Schuur, who has perfect pitch, did begin to learn from braille-written music but discarded it as it restricted her to having only one hand to play the piano with - Lance

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