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Dianne Schuur: A New Beginning 2011

 

BACK By: Melissa Berry             Los Angeles, CA

Photos By: Wire Image com M Sullivan                                      

June 27, 2011

 


 
 
Diane Schuur's The Gathering, released on June 7th, is a collection of hit country songs, and a solid example of her belief in change.  In a recent interview with this two-time Grammy winner and one of contemporary jazz's leading vocalist,  "change" was the theme of our conversation, and not just in her music, but in her approach to many other parts of her life. 
 
 
The Gathering
 
 
"I needed another direction for my music. This album was a natural fit for me.  All the stars lined up, and nothing was forced.  I waited for a long time to do this kind of album.  Those sessions in Nashville were a gathering of  the spirits, and we got it right." This exploration also has included some immense personal changes  which obviously have a great influence on this album. It's very apparent that the two are not mutually exclusive, and that she's thriving and flourishing both musically and personally.
 
 
 Although Schuur is known as a jazz vocalist, her growing up years encompassed a variety of music.  She talked about her mom and dad listening to Country while her own listening also included listening to classic jazz vocalist Dinah Washington and others. It's with this background that she's been able to successfully meld her background into this CD.  It musically represents her musical evolution and transition culminating is an album that is Country in genre enhanced with hints, riffs and touches of the music of her career.
 
"Today I Started Loving You" is the perfect example of the evolution in the melding of jazz and country. Although written by Merle Haggard/Bonnie Owens, it has that jazzy flavor. This version features Larry Carlton, who opens with George Benson like voicing.  "Larry starts off with this 'On Broadway' feel and then later he follows me perfectly with my scatting part.  It's so cool how we developed a call-and response."  
 
 
 
Instead of analyzing the arrangement anymore, we decided I should put it on and we listened to it together over the phone. As we listened together she went through it with me.  With the blues "call and response" she sang along which was one of the greatest interview experiences I've ever had.  At times she scatted live over the phone with herself scatting on the CD.  This was not the first time there had been music over the phone in this interview. Earlier when we'd been talking about Vicki Carr we both had to give "Let It Please Be Him" take a bit of a beating as we tried to recreate that "tear" in Carr's voice in the song. There were also lots of musical examples from the album sung to me as we were chatting.  Such a musical treat. 
 
 
 We also discussed some of the songwriters on the album including the wonderful Roger Miller's "When Two Words Collide" — as she said, "This is the perfect breakup song with brilliant lyrics." And there was the always-prophetic Kris Kristofferson's "Nobody Wins."
 
 
 
 
Diane's enthusiasm pores over into her daily life. It was possible to recognize the same enthusiasm as there was in discussing her new album. We chatted about everything including her husband, her various cats, diet and health. Of course, her cats are musical and we exchanged some cat stories.  From there we segued into her recent involvement in ALS Foundation, where she's actively involved in fund. This recently included participating in a marathon to raise funds for research for Parkinson's disease. She delightedly told me how she walked four miles in two hours with the help of several friends and a "stroller", helping to raise $98,000.  This coincided with Diane's own change in approach to creating a more health conscious lifestyle for herself and her husband through diet and exercise. She feels great, looks great and continues to make great music.
 
 
The Gathering exemplifies all this enthusiasm and the gifts of being fearless in trying new things.  And, the results are that we get to reap the musical harvest.
 
 

 

 

 

 

              

              

                                            

         

 

         

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