IM this article to a friend!

September 28, 2004

Schuur, Circle have a lovely ring

From: Contra Costa Times, CA - Sep 28, 2004

By Pat Craig


It isn't early in the morning -- nobody around here is cruel enough to call a nighttime gal early in the morning.

"Midnight," is the name of Diane Schuur's latest CD, and on it she ain't singing bedtime lullabies. She's a late-night diva, and when the phone rings at her house early in the afternoon, she struggles to pick up.

"Hello," she says, turning the greeting into a long, tortured phrase that becomes artillery fired against waking up. "No, no, it's OK, just give me a minute here."

There are painful seconds of awakening sounds, a sort of wordless railing against the daylight, until Deedles (a longtime nickname that has become the way she prefers to be addressed) surfaces from the depths of slumber.

"No, let's do it now," she tells the inadvertent alarm clock at the other end of the line, "we're going out later. This is about the San Francisco gig, right?"

And the new CD, but, yeah, the San Francisco stop on Wednesday for the Ever Widening Circle, an evening celebrating art and disability, featuring performers with various disabilities (Schuur is blind). The show is presented by the World Institute on Disability.

"You heard the CD?" Schuur asks, delighted because so often people aren't familiar with her work.

Yeah, it was great; the songs have that familiar kind of feel, like standards.

"Yeah, he's great," says Schuur.

The "he" is a thread through the music (in addition to Schuur) -- one Barry Manilow, who created at least a piece of each of the tunes in the collection that's good for quietly celebrating the good life or lamenting a lost love.

"Concord (Records) got together with Barry Manilow and asked who he wanted to work with, and he said, 'Diane Schuur,' then he called me and we got together," she says, "and a few months later, this is what we had."

Some of these tunes will be featured in the San Francisco gig, along with tunes from the current work-in-progress, kind of a Brazilian take on a variety of tunes.

Ever Widening Circle also features Light Motion, a dance duo featuring one disabled performer; C.J. Jones, a solo performer who is deaf; Fred Burns, a comic on crutches; and Emiliano Borgois-Chacon, a poet with cerebral palsy.

Schuur's San Francisco performance is shoehorned into a long tour, which has included concerts in Israel, where it was so hot, performances were staged at 10:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. It's essentially the sort of life on the road she enjoys.

She first sang when she was 9, and grew to become a favorite of jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie, as well as Stan Getz, who became her mentor after hearing her sing at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1979. Since then, she has recorded 15 albums and received a pair of Grammys as best jazz vocalist.

While she enjoys performing in just about any situation, the intimate confines of cabaret hold a special place for her. No matter what else she's doing, she has a standing date for a gig at the Blue Note in New York at least once a year.

Pat Craig is the Times theater critic. Reach him at 925-945-4736 or


• WHAT: Ever Widening Circle , featuring Diane Schuur

• WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday

• WHERE: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard St., S.F.

• HOW MUCH: $15 and up

• CONTACT: 415-978-2787,

© 2004 Contra Costa Times