In the sensibilities of a master vocal interpreter and storyteller like Diane Schuur, great jazz is a matter of transferring passions from the genius of the songwriter to the singer’s own personal life experiences and then out towards a universal experience we can all relate to.
With Running on Faith, her first album in six years (on the Jazzheads label), the two-time Grammy winner closes in on 40 years as a recording artist with her most personal album ever – and one that finds her using classic (and often unexpectedly obscure) songs from the jazz, soul, rock, pop and blues realms to express her deeply felt emotions about faith, love, diversity, gratitude and challenge.
Believing that music has the power to comfort and heal – and a necessary element in the need for reconciliation in the universe – she is proud to share the fact that this is the first time in her career that she chose every song on an album. This creative freedom allows her to use both her powerful and supple voice and sparkling piano skills to paint what rolls as something of a sacred narrative – true insight to her soul via a wide range of genres and spirited, soulful arrangements.
The legends, living and dead, she draws from speak to that diversity, starting with Miles Davis (“All Blues”) and Percy Mayfield (“Walking on a Tightrope,” “The Danger Zone”) to Paul Simon (“Something So Right”), post ELO Jeff Lynne (“The Sun Will Shine On You”), The Beatles (“Let It Be”), Eric Clapton (the title cut), Dinah Washington (Clyde Otis’ “This Bitter Earth”), Jaco Pastorius (“Alfred J. Ellis’ “Chicken”) and Carole King (“Way Over Yonder”).
Surprisingly but also eloquently – and perfectly summarizing our common desire for a more peaceful existence- Schurr closes with a poignant piano solo rendition of the spiritual “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.” Kudos all around must be paid to co-producer and saxophonist Ernie Watts, the brilliant guitarist Thom Rotella, trumpet and flugelhorn great Kye Palmer, acoustic bassist Bruce Lett and drummer Kendall Kay for helping the singer bring her heartfelt masterwork to life.