Diane Schuur

Concord Records, 2003


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Multiple-Grammy winner and jazz vocalist Diane Schuur has a smooth, supple voice that's a joy to listen to. So you gotta figure that if she's having fun singing, it's going to be a pretty special work. You'd be absolutely right, O Ye DV Faithful, and Midnight is the time to hear some pretty fine jazz.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Schuur has been called 'our generation's Ella Fitzgerald', and her rich full tone can wrap itself around a song and make it hers. On Midnight, she teams up with longtime friend Barry Manilow as producer -- and before you run screaming, do bear in mind that Manilow's jazz and swing work, his 2 A.M Paradise Cafe stuff, is astonishingly good (I confess, I even like some of his other stuff). His touch as producer is light, but full, allowing the song choice and Schuur's astonishing three-and-a-half octave range to take center stage. The instrumentation is excellent, supportive without being intrusive; special kudos have to go to percussionist Peter Erskine, who manages to lay down some perfect beats without ruining the essential smoothness of the recording.

Midnight is an interesting collection of songs. Schuur bounces around between cover versions -- a truly breathtaking version of Johnny Mercer's "When October Goes", also recorded by Manilow on his Paradise Café CD -- and originals, like the samba-laced "What Is Love?", with its clever and precise lyrics. The Brazilian notes continue on the elegant and lovely "Our Love Will Always Be There". Other tracks of note include the CD's opener, "Meet Me, Midnight"; the wistful and smoky "Consider The Point From Both Ends"; the heartbreaking "Goodbye My Love"; and the final joyful duet with Manilow, "Anytime". The real jewel, though, is Schuur's duet with labelmate Karrin Allyson, the Bruce Sussman standard "Stay Away From Bill". Great stuff, simply great.

Midnight is one of the best jazz standards CDs I've heard in a very long time, and is a strong candidate for this year's Top Ten list. As Schuur herself puts it, 'Some rise at sunrise and think it's a wow // That's really nice if you're milking a cow"…but Midnight is really where it's at.

Rating: A

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