B.B. King is more than just one of the greatest masters of electric blues guitar; he is also an extraordinarily gifted singer. His talents on his instrument are so great that they tend to eclipse his soulful and sophisticated singing voice, but any who might possibly have doubted his ability will do so no more upon hearing Heart to Heart. On this 1994 release, he joins pop-jazz balladeer Diane Schuur for ten surprising tracks. It is a very moody album, with the overall vibe being mainly of the drown-your-broken-heart-in-gin variety. Some of the string and synth arrangements come off as a little unnecessary, as the music is ably framed by piano, guitar, bass, and drums…
On this well-intentioned set, Diane Schuur sings 13 standards that she individually dedicated to 12 singers: Billie Holiday (who is saluted with two songs), Helen Morgan, Anita O'Day, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald, Libby Holman, Peggy Lee, Dinah Washington, Ivie Anderson, Nancy Wilson and Mabel Mercer. In most cases, the arrangements for the huge string orchestra (contributed by Billy May, Johnny Mandel, Jeremy Lubbock, Clare Fischer or Alan Broadbent) weigh down the music a bit, and none of Schuur's renditions quite reach the heights of her role models. Still, Diane Schuur's voice is quite attractive, and taken on its own merit, this sincere CD (which has an informative 40-page booklet) is generally enjoyable.
Diane Schuur, who has sometimes been on the periphery of jazz, balances her importance as a dedicated jazz singer with the inclusion of a large dose of pop tunes in her repertoire. Early in her career she had the tendency to screech in her upper register, but with maturity that flaw has largely disappeared and she has become a very impressive singer. Blinded at birth due to a hospital accident, Schuur (who would later be nicknamed "Deedles") imitated singers as a child.
On this set, Diane Schuur performs 13 songs written or co-written by Barry Manilow, most of which are new. On first glance, the project may not seem to have much potential, particularly if one thinks of Manilow's pop records. However, other than a charming vocal duet on the closing "Anytime," Manilow is not on this date and the emphasis is on Schuur's beautiful voice. Fortunately, she takes most of the songs pretty straight, sounding at her best throughout. Manilow proves to be an underrated songwriter, contributing some touching ballads and a few swingers while collaborating with some talented and often witty lyricists…
Diane Schuur has always enjoyed singing standards, but Timeless, her third recording, was her first full-length set to be continually interesting to jazz listeners. With arrangements by Billy May, Johnny Mandel, Patrick Williams and Jeremy Lubbock, Schuur is backed by a large string orchestra and a big band. Among the guest soloists are tenor saxophonist Stan Getz (on "How Long Has This Been Going On" and "A Time For Love"), trombonist Bill Watrous, vibraphonist Larry Bunker and trumpeter Warren Luening. Schuur, who does not play any piano on the album, sounds in excellent voice, particularly during the two Getz tracks and on such tunes as "Easy To Love," "How About Me" and "Please Send Me Someone To Love."
For her entry into the increasingly popular Great American Songbook subgenre, Diane Schuur de-emphasizes the vocal histrionics that in the past have come close to spoiling some of her recordings and maintains a steady, clear, exuberant tone. Good move: one of Schuur's gifts is her multi-octave range, but she has often over-relied on it at the expense of whatever song she was singing. Here, she takes to the classic compositions of George and Ira Gershwin, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, and the like with a respectfulness and glee that allow her to frame and expose these culturally embedded lyrics and melodies without beating on them.
Diane Joan Schuur (born December 10, 1953), nicknamed "Deedles", is an American jazz singer and pianist. As of 2015, Schuur had released 23 albums, and had extended her jazz repertoire to include essences of Latin, gospel, pop and country music. Her most successful album is Diane Schuur & the Count Basie Orchestra, which remained number one on the Billboard Jazz Charts for 33 weeks. She won Grammy Awards for best female jazz vocal performance in both 1986 and 1987 and has had three other Grammy nominations.
One of the premier vocalists in jazz, Seattle native Diane Schuur - nicknamed "Deedles" since the 1984 recording of the same name featuring saxophone icon Stan Getz - has won two Grammy Awards and headlined the most prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall and The White House. She has also collaborated, toured and/or recorded with Quincy Jones, BB King, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Barry Manilow among many others.