Diane Schuur is a critically acclaimed diva of jazz, often described as "the new First Lady of jazz," with five Grammy nominations and two Grammy awards to her credit. She celebrates her twenty-fifth year "in the business" by bringing Latin jazz ensamble Caribbean Jazz Project along for the ride on "Schuur Fire," a feisty, sultry mix of bubbling Latin jazz. She also enlists the aid of Brazilian guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves as producer and arranger.
Schuur has often released albums with a little twist on her name (for example, "Friends for Schurr," "Schurr Thing," and "Pure Schurr"), and each new record lets her kick the jazz in a different direction. On "Schurr Fire," producer Castro-Neves says that "The idea was to do a Latin oriented album with a repertoire originally not done as Latin music. It's a twist, so people can revisit tunes they know, but this time they're hear them fired up by Latin rhythms." In that regard, "Schuur Fire" features tunes originally made popular by the likes of Duran Duran ("Ordinary World"), Frank Sinatra ("More Than You Know"), Ray Charles ("I Can't Stop Loving You"), James Taylor ("Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight"), and Stevie Wonder ("As").
The album features lively, up tempo ballads, turning standards (even Cole Porter) into engaging jazz with a Latin beat. Castro-Neves' often-poignant guitar riffs serve as a counterpoint to Schuru's vocals, while the Caribbean Jazz Project's simmering rhythms. To me, jazz is a funny thing: funny in that a few notes can convey an amazing array of mood and emotion. "Schuur Fire" is upbeat and romantic, with rolling percussion and lots of obvious Latin influences constantly encouraging musical changes of direction. When you take Cole Porter's "So in Love" and burn it up, you have to say you're doing things just a little bit different. It's also fair to say that when you take source material from as diverse a cross-section as is reflected here (Duran Duran and Sinatra?) and move those songs into a classic jazz arrangement and then kick in a dash of Latino flair - well, it's a pretty potent mix.