Saturday, May 9, 2009

Deedles disappoints

Weisenheimer has seen Diane Schuur perform maybe 20 times, dating back to when she was a virtual unknown playing clubs around town, and I've never been disappointed until yesterday's show at Jazz Alley.

It wasn't that the music was bad. In fact it was good. But Schuur had a decided lack of energy -- in fact she looked bad and I thought she might be ill. And there was almost none of the often-randy play with the audience that, while occasionally overdone, has usually been an enjoyable part of any concert by Schuur.

She played four tracks from her most recent album, Some Other Time: "Takin' a Chance on Love", "They Say it's Wonderful", "Beginner's Luck", and "My Favorite Things". The latter was my favorite thing of the evening, a lengthy piece that showcased the excellent band.

The one time we got to enjoy Schuur's personality a bit was when she actually left the stage mid-set for a potty break. "If you gotta go, you gotta go." The band played on, and when she returned Schuur played and sang a few bars from The Guess Who's "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature." I'll never again hear the lyric "that new splendid lady come to call" in quite the same way.

The band -- Scott Steed on bass, Dan Balmer on guitar, and Reggie Jackson on drums -- did a lot of extensive jamming, notably on "My Favorite Things", on Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing", and Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way." They were outstanding. But the instrument we came to hear was Schuur's voice, and she didn't have her usual spark and energy.

The turnout was surprisingly small for a Friday night, and we knew the late set was going to have some room when they offered everyone at the first the chance to stick around for the second at no cover. It didn't appear they were getting many takers, and there was just a small line waiting for the second set as we left the club.

Too bad. Some Other Time has received pretty good reviews, and by all accounts Schuur, one of my favorite recording artists, still has it. She didn't much last night. Maybe some other time.

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