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Diane Schuur: Running on Faith

C. Michael Bailey By

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Diane Schuur: Running on Faith
Pianist and vocalist Diane "Deedles" Schuur and Wessell "Warmdaddy" Anderson may be the last jazz artists to have musically-anointed monikers, from a genre replete with them (Lester "Prez" Young, Billie "Lady Day" Holiday, Johnny "Rabbit" Hodges, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and "John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie). Schuur was named "Deedles" as a child by her mother. The name stuck and proved both inspirational and descriptive for the accomplished singer and pianist, blind from birth, who has performed with the luminaries of jazz.

After an absence of six years, her last recording, I Remember You: Love to Stan and Frank (Jazzheads) being released in 2014, Deedles returns with a contemporary shine to her music. Teaming with saxophonist and co-producer Ernie Watts, Schuur digs deep on songs as close to her as skin. A conversational singer with a big personality, Schuur puts a lightspeed spin on some pretty unlikely songs for her repertoire. Schuur is in a spiritual mood to be sure, but she avoids barreling down the middle of the Gospel Kingdom getting to where she wants to go.

Schuur opens the disc with two Percy Mayfield tunes, "Walking on a Tightrope" and "The Danger Zone." Her arrangements and accompaniment are more contemporary than she has employed in the past. The approach complements her breezy singing method. Kyle Palmer's trumpet on the former and guitarist Thom Rotella on the latter season the pieces with a noir ambience. Schuur takes a bite out of Peter Elderidge-Kim Nazarian lyrics given Miles Davis' "All Blues." Palmer and Rotella both solo in a piquant and angular fashion. Drummer Kendall Kay sets up a shimmering cymbal background providing his own wall-of-sound. Schuur sounds like she is enjoying herself.

Paul Simon's "Something So Right" and the Beatles' "Let it Be" anchor the collection. Schuur sings with complete command on both numbers, with Watts turning in his finest performance on the recording playing soprano saxophone on "Let it Be." It is a show stopper. Schuur channels the potent spirit of Dinah Washington on "This Bitter Earth" and closes the disc with an ethereal solo piano performance of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot." Deedles continues to be a force of nature in jazz. A very welcome one.

Track Listing

Walking on a Tightrope; The Danger Zone; All Blues; Something So Right; Let It Be; The Sun Will Shine on You; Everybody Looks Good at the Starting Line; There is Always One More Time; Chicken; The Bitter Earth; Running on Faith; Way Over Yonder; Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

Personnel

Diane Schuur: voice / vocals; Ernie Watts: woodwinds; Kye Palmer: trumpet; Thom Rotella: guitar; Bruce Lett: bass; Kendall Kay: drums.

Album information

Title: Running on Faith | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Jazzheads

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