Halfling and I saw another amazingly good concert last night when Diane Schuur visited Brookhaven College. It was his first time to see her, and mine too, for all practical purposes (I'll explain that in a minute).
Schuur is a gifted singer (and a fine pianist) with a great set of pipes and a three-and-a-half-octave range. She's most at home on ballads and blues, but she really has the ability to make just about any song her own. Though she's been blind since birth, she manages to sing and play both piano and keyboard at the same time and does a great job on all three. She also possesses an amazing set of ears (as evidenced by her trading licks with the tenor player on one of the Latin numbers). Her small band (tenor sax, bass, drums) followed her through a variety of styles, including several from her forthcoming CD, Schuur Fire, recorded with something called the Caribbean Jazz Project.
She opened the evening with "Deedles' Blues" from her acclaimed recording with the Count Basie Orchestra (Deedles being her longtime nickname and the title of her first CD). Other highlights included Stevie Wonder's "As," the standards "Teach Me Tonight," "The Man I Love" and "The Very Thought of You," and a Latinized version of "I Can't Stop Loving You," which sounded from its intro like it was going to be about a girl from Ipanema.
She was definitely having a great time up there; at one point, her escort came out onstage so she could step away from the piano and dance with him during an extended solo. The evening had a loose, relaxed feel to it, as she would give little instructions to her bandmates and crack jokes between tunes. (At one point, she said she would raise her left hand when she wanted an extended drum solo to end, following it up by invoking the old deodorant commercial, saying "Raise your hands if you're Schuur...which I am!") The fun definitely extended to the near-sellout crowd, of which (surprisingly to us) we were some of the youngest members.
Oh, and as far as the backstory goes: I'd attempted to see her about eight years ago at Caravan of Dreams, but I was at a major fraternity function where someone decided to hijack the meeting with his own personal agenda, which resulted in things running way overtime. That night, my friend and I ended up leaving Denton after the concert in Ft. Worth had already started, and we got there with only one tune left. It was a gorgeous a capella version of "Over the Rainbow," and it was amazing, but it only whetted our appetites at best.
So tonight, it was a perfect ending when, after her band left the stage, she was once again standing alone at the microphone, doing the exact same song as before. There couldn't have beena better way to put the bow on this musical gift...but thankfully, this time we had the whole concert to go with it as well.
UPDATE: Halfling weighs in on the concert as well, filling in some of the details I left out. We're good like that...
Another of the greatest graduation speeches you'll never hear: A while back, I found a really good essay entitled the Neal Boortz Commencement Speech, which I talked about on here. Yesterday, I found another one which, like Boortz's, was written but never delivered (in this case, because the school authorities vetoed the plan to invite him for some reason). It's from essayist Paul Graham, and it's entitled What You'll Wish You'd Known. Check it out; it's a good read, and as practical as Boortz's is political.
QUOTE OF THE DAY (ONLINE VERSION): "[I]f you're over 14 and half your friends are within 5 years of your own age, you're doing something wrong. Widsom and expertise will come to you from a wide range of people."--From a Slashdot reader's comments to the Graham essay. I've certainly always believed this...