It seems that Diane Schuur, never one to pull any punches in expressing happiness, and Concord Jazz are overjoyed about their new partnership. The first album in what is expected to be a long relationship is Friends For Schuur a canny blend of studio recordings, live performances and digital interactivity that would have been unlikely, if not impossible, pre- Unforgettable.
The never-really-happenedbut sure enough, technologically createdteaming of Schuur and Stan Getz on “Easy Living” serves as a reminder that Getz discovered Schuur more than two decades ago. It also serves as a reminder that Getz recorded some gorgeous albums for Concord, one of which serves as the basis for the digital teaming of mentor and protégé. But that past is prologue for the remainder of the album.
For the friendships continue as Schuur sings with admirers and admired like Alan Bergman, Stephen Bishop and Richard Cocciante. Heartfelt and well-produced though these duos may be, Friends For Schuur picks up unmistakable steam as the album heads toward its ending, much as a theatrical event saves the surprises for last.
The interest heightens as Schuur and Ray Charles sing “It Had To Be You,” accompanied by Charles’ group in a live Public Broadcasting System performance to benefit the blind.
The undoubted high point of the album occurs during the track documenting Schuur’s participation in a Kennedy Center tribute to Stevie Wonder. For ultimate sophistication and high-powered talent, the addition of Herbie Hancock, Terri Lyne Carrington and background vocalists join in. Related to the tribute, though, is the closing number of “Finally,” a Stevie Wonder song written for Schuur and which they both sing.
With high production values and with high-profile talent backing her, it’s obvious that Schuur’s association with Concord is going to be a long and mutually rewarding one. It probably won’t be long before Schuur resumes her prolific recording career with her second Concord CD.
Track Listing: Easy Living, I
Personnel: Diane Schuur, vocals & piano; Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Richard Cocciante, Alan Bergman, Stephen Bishop, guest vocalists; Stan Getz, tenor sax; Steve Wonder, harmonica; Alan Broadbent, Dave Grusin, Herbie Hancock, piano; Randy Waldman, Ray Charles, Greg Philinganes, synthesizer; Michael Landau, Michael Thompson, Dean Parks, Randy Jacobs, guitar; Chalres Berghofer, Jim Hughart, Tom Fowler, Alex Al, bass; Gregg Field, Harvey Mason, Peter Turre, Terri Lyne Carrington, drums; Paulinho Da Costa, percussion, background vocals, Curtis King, Vaneese Thomas, the Rob Mathis Voices