Diane Schuur had joined the flood of refugees from other labels (GRP especially) that are converging to strengthen Concord's standing as one of the premiere labels in jazz. And her Concord debut is an auspicious one, indeed. While Deedles can certainly turn in impressive performances on her own, she seems to rise to an even higher level when collaborating with other equally talented artists. Her choice of collaborators on this CD also demonstrates her proficiency in a variety of genres, such as jazz (Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock), soul/R&B (Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder), soundtracks (Dave Grusin, Alan Bergman), and pop (Stephen Bishop, Richard Cocciante).
Schuur's musical and personal friendships form the concept for the album, but the other theme which runs throughout is the unabashed love song. Deedles is particularly emotive on these sessions, soothing the heart with warmth and charm. Her interpretations are right on target; her occasional tendency to over-embellish or reach for shrill high notes which have occasionally marred past performances are absent here. Several highlights (on an album that is full of them, really): Alan Broadbent and Randy Waldman's arrangements, her playful and intuitive duets with Ray Charles on "It Had to Be You" and Stephen Bishop on "Red Cab to Manhattan," and Stevie Wonder's "Finally" (written especially for Schuur) which closes the album.
I've long asserted that Diane Schuur is one of the premiere vocalists of our generation, and this album is one the best in her discography to support that claim.
Track Listing: Easy Living; I'd Fly; For the First Time; It Might Be You (Theme from "Tootsie"); Love Like Ours; Red Cab to Manhattan; The Heart Never Learns; Never Take That Chance Again; It Had to Be You; I Just Called to Say I Love You; Finally. (55:41)
Personnel: Featured soloists: Stan Getz - tenor sax; Richard Cocciante, Alan Bergman, Stephen Bishop - vocals; Dave Grusin, Herbie Hancock - piano; Ray Charles - vocal and synthesizer; Stevie Wonder - vocal and harmonica. Other musicians: Alan Broadbent - piano; Randy Waldman, Greg Phillinganes - synthesizers; Michael Landau, Dean Parks, Michael Thompson, Randy Jacobs - guitar; Chuck Berghofer, Jim Hughart, Tom Fowler, Alex Al - bass; Gregg Field, Harvey Mason, Peter Torre, Terri Lyne Carrington - drums; Paulinho da Costa - percussion; Curtis King, Vaneese Thomas, Rob Mathes Voices - background vocals.