CONCORD RECORDS RELEASES THE NEW CD FROM TWO-TIME GRAMMY AWARD WINNING SINGER/PIANIST
“SOME OTHER TIME”
HER NEW DISC CELEBRATES THE JAZZ OF HER PARENTS’ GENERATION
ONLINE AND IN STORES FEBRUARY 26, 2008
DIANE SCHUUR, the acclaimed vocalist and pianist, grew up at the intersection of two distinct worlds of music. On one hand, the radio of her youth telegraphed the sounds of Motown, the Beatles and other powerful forces of the ‘60s. On the other, her parents’ home in Auburn, Washington, was filled with the likes of Dinah Washington, Nat King Cole and other luminaries of mid-20th century jazz.
Out of this melting pot, Schuur developed a hybrid style that merges the best elements of the jazz and pop traditions. Since her recording career began in the early 1980s, she has scored two Grammy Awards and three additional Grammy nominations, and has performed and collaborated with artists as diverse as B.B. King, Ray Charles, Stan Getz and many more.
On February 26, 2008, Schuur returns to her jazz roots – the music of her parents’ generation, which includes some of the earliest and most enduring music in her creative consciousness – with the worldwide release of Some Other Time (Concord Jazz CCD-30614).
“This recording is a celebration of the fortieth anniversary of my mother’s death,” says Schuur, whose mother died at age 31 in January 1967, when the aspiring young vocalist and musician was only 13 years old. “This is a celebration of the music she introduced to me when I was growing up. After enough time goes by, everything your parents ever told you, everything they ever tried to teach you, starts to make sense. You find out how they grew up and how they looked at the world in the context of their generation and their times.”
The album kicks off with “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” a classic by one of the most influential songwriting teams of the last century, George and Ira Gershwin. Beginning here and for most of the set, pianist/arranger Randy Porter and guitarist Dan Balmer set up a rich harmonic platform for Schuur’s playful vocals.
While the material itself may be from another era, Some Other Time as a whole is anything but a retro-flavored nostalgia trip. “Randy and I spent many hours going through the songs,” says Schuur. “His basic arrangements were really brilliant, but I’m glad I was able to add some things. I wanted to make things as different as possible. A lot of the songs came together right in the studio. It was a very spontaneous, very intuitive process.”
Also from the Gershwin canon is “I’ve Got Beginner’s Luck,” which follows an elastic time signature crafted by the rhythm section of bassist Scott Steed and drummer Reggie Jackson. For all of the song’s complexities, Schuur’s equally pliable vocals have no trouble keeping up. Similarly, Schuur’s rendition of Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies” a few tracks later is everything the title implies – wide-open, airy and full of possibility – with Schuur taking an interpretive and playful approach with the vocal line. She takes a similar tack with “My Favorite Things,” the whimsical Rodgers and Hammerstein classic from The Sound of Music, one of Schuur’s favorite movies from her childhood.
While Porter handles the lion share of the piano work on Some Other Time, Schuur steps up to the keys for two tracks, “It’s Magic” and “The Good Life,” and proves that her instrumental chops are just as formidable as her vocal abilities. “I love ‘It’s Magic,’ because Dinah Washington did it so beautifully on a 1959 album called What a Difference a Day Makes,” she says.
The closing tracks have a poignant magic all their own. “September in the Rain” is taken from a 1964 recording made by a 10-year-old Schuur and her parents at a Holiday Inn in Tacoma, Washington. Filled with the same gusto that would later define Schuur’s vocal style as an adult, this reel-to-reel recording was later transferred to an audiocassette in the 1980s and finally to digital for this project by engineer Bill Smith.
Immediately following “September in the Rain” is an exchange between Schuur and her mother from that same period in the mid-‘60s. Schuur’s mother asks if Diane knows “Danny Boy,” and Diane responds with the promise that she’ll record the song just for her. What follows is a heart-stopping rendition of the classic Irish tune that transcends the mortal plane and makes good on a devoted daughter’s promise more than forty years after it was made.
Long regarded – and sometimes criticized – as an artist who has walked a tightrope between jazz and pop, Schuur sees Some Other Time as an unwavering statement about her commitment to the jazz tradition and its influence on her artistic sensibilities. “This album really is about coming back to the basics of my jazz roots,” she says. “Not that I really completely left them, but there were a few detours along the way.”
But there’s another connection, something much deeper and more personal, that Schuur makes with Some Other Time: “I would like to think that I’m reaching out to Mama,” she says, “just to tell her that I love her and that I appreciate the fact that she worked so hard in the short time that she lived. And I’m grateful that she was able to instill in me a love of music. Mama gave me that, and it follows me everywhere.”
DIANE SCHUUR – BIOGRAPHY
Vocalist/pianist Diane Schuur is as eclectic as she is brilliant. A longtime disciple of Dinah Washington and other legendary jazz singers of the ‘40s and ‘50s, Schuur has built a stellar career by embracing not only the jazz of her parents’ generation, but also the pop music of her own youth during the late 1950s and ‘60s. In a recording career that spans nearly three decades – and includes two Grammy Awards and three Grammy nominations – Schuur’s music has explored nearly every corner of the 20th century American musical landscape.
Born in Tacoma, Washington, in December 1953, Schuur was blind from birth. She grew up in nearby Auburn, Washington, where her father was a police captain. Nicknamed Deedles at a young age, Schuur discovered the world of jazz via her father, a piano player, and her mother, who kept a formidable collection of Duke Ellington and Dinah Washington records in the house.
She was still a toddler when she learned to sing the Dinah Washington signature song, “What a Difference a Day Makes.” Armed with the rare gift of perfect pitch, Schuur taught herself piano by ear and developed a rich, resonant vocal style early on, as evidenced in a recording of her first public performance at a Holiday Inn in Tacoma when she was ten years old. She received formal piano training at the Washington State School for the Blind, which she attended until age 11. By her early teens, she had amassed her own collection of Washington’s records and looked to the legendary vocalist as her primary inspiration.
Schuur made her first record in 1971, a country single entitled “Dear Mommy and Daddy,” produced by Jimmy Wakely. After high school, she focused on jazz and gigged around the northwest. In 1975, an informal audition with trumpeter Doc Severinson (then the leader of the Tonight Show band) led to a gig with Tonight Show drummer Ed Shaughnessy’s group at the Monterey Jazz Festival. She sang a gospel suite with Shaughnessy’s band in front of a festival audience that included jazz tenor saxophonist Stan Getz, who in turn invited her to participate in a talent showcase at the White House. A subsequent return performance at the White House led to a record deal with GRP, which released Schuur’s debut album, Deedles, in 1984.
Over the next 13 years, Schuur recorded 11 albums on GRP, including two Grammy winners: Timeless (1986) and Diane Schuur and the Count Basie Orchestra (1987). The recording with the Basie Orchestra spent 33 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard jazz charts. In 1991, Pure Schuur made the number-one slot on the Contemporary Jazz charts, and Heart To Heart – a 1994 collaborative recording with B.B. King – entered the Billboard charts at No. 1.
After one album on Atlantic records in 1999 – Music is My Life, produced by Ahmet Ertegun – Schuur joined the Concord label with the 2000 release of Friends For Schuur. The move to Concord marked the beginning of a series of highly successful collaborative projects: Swingin’ For Schuur (2001), a set of finely crafted duets with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson; Midnight (2003), Schuur’s unique interpretations of thirteen songs (mostly new material) written or co-written by Barry Manilow; and Schuur Fire (2005), a decidedly Latin-flavored album featuring the Caribbean Jazz Project.