Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Diane Schuur rolled into Seattle and kicked some butt with two dynamite sets Friday night at Jazz Alley. It was great to have my socks knocked off by Schuur, one of my favorite musical artists. The last time we'd seen her, a 2009 show at the same venue, we were underwhelmed. I'm happy to report that the previous dud was probably just an off night, as Schuur and band were fantastic on Friday.

The early set opened with a pair of tunes from Schuur's 2011 album "The Gathering," a collection of country classics: "Today I Started Loving You Again" and the Patsy Cline tune "Why Can't He Be You?" She also covered the Etta James signature song "At Last."

For me, the highlight of the first set was a spectacular performance of the Chuck Mangione composition "Land of Make Believe" that must have gone on for 15 minutes. I'm writing this on Tuesday evening, and the performance is still rattling around in my head four days after the fact.

The set also featured something new to Schuur shows, at least to my memory; on several tunes, including Stevie Wonder's "As", and Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing", Schuur and sax player Andrew Neu engaged in a brilliant call-and-response with Deedles matching the sax every step of the way.

The opening set also included several Schuur classics: "More Than You Know" from the album "Schuur Fire," an a capella rendition of "Over the Rainbow," and the set-closer "Deedles' Blues."

As great as the first set was, the second blew it away. It featured three tunes from Schuur's 2003 album "Midnight", written and produced by Barry Manilow. "Meet Me, Midnight", "When October Goes", and "Life is Good" all were great. But the highlights of the set were three great jams, on the Miles Davis composition "All Blues", on "The Chicken", and the night's final tune "Love Dance" by Ivan Lins.

Schuur was in fine form, and her band was great. It featured Neu on sax, Tony Moore on drums, and was anchored by Roberto Vally on bass. They just went out and jammed on a half dozen tunes during the evening's two sets, and it was a joy to watch how well they played together.

Between sets my Sweetie, the official scorer, and I contemplated how wrong it was that, on this evening, the brilliant Diane Schuur attracted maybe 100 or so to Jazz Alley--the second set was especially sparsely attended--while a few miles away more than 23,000 watched the Seattle Mariners, who haven't done anything worth a damn for 10 years.

Schuur still has it. Don't miss it the next time she comes to town.

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