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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Welcome to Straight No Chaser, the Award-winning Podcast hosted by Jeffrey Siegel

Jun 6, 2011

I figured, if Ray Charles could record a country album with the inflections of blues and jazz and be successful, why can’t I? – Diane Schuur.

Diane “Deedles” Schuur has been a straight ahead jazz singer of some note (and success) for the past three decades. An outstanding big band singer as well as a talented small group leader, she has that “old school” sound reminiscent of Dinah Washington or Sarah Vaughan.

She’s got the ability to deviate from pure jazz as well, having recorded a duet album with blues legend B. B. King in 1994 (Heart to Heart). Her newest release, The Gathering, finds her in Nashville, creating a hybrid of jazz and country music, backed by a unique combination of Music City studio veterans and jazz and rock stars. She chose songs that have stood the test of time, written by Country stars like Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson. By her account, it may be the best things she’s ever done.

I’m not sure I’d go that far - I’m partial to Ms. Schuur’s albums with Maynard Ferguson and Count Basie Orchestra. However, this is a wonderfully intimate album, and shows yet another side of a talented artist. There’s a distinct lack of crying steel guitar and other Country clichés that could have marred the record. In fact, producer Steve Buckingham wisely added organ and vibes to the sound, typically jazz-centric instrumentation. As a result,  we get mostly one take versions of great songs sung by a great singer with a great band. What could be wrong with that?

Click here to listen to Podcast 219, and you can hear my conversation with Diane, along with tracks from her new album (which is her first for Vanguard Records) , including:

Diane Schuur - “Healing Hands of Time” – The Gathering. This mellow Willie Nelson tune is given a boost by Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) on guitar, and has a soulful Kirk Whalum sax solo that has Diane laughing and singing along to wrap things up.

Diane Schuur - “Today I Started Loving You Again” – The Gathering. Diane feels this might be the first recorded version of scat singing in a Nashville recording studio! Larry Carlton guests to supply his distinct electric guitar sound, eventually dueling with Ms. D’s vocals.

Diane Schuur – “Blue Skies” from Some Other Time. Here’s the Deedles I know and love, giving her interpretation of Irving Berlin’s standard, on an album dedicated the songs she learned from her parents while growing up. The small group behind her is Randy Porter on piano, Scott Steed on bass, Dan Balmer on guitar. and Reggie Jackson on drums,