Monday, August 13, 2001

Wade, Schuur don't let night cool down

By Cecelia D. Johnson
Enquirer Contributor

        It was a different kind of girls night out — no disrespect to Reba McIntyre. The glory of song and voice was the order of the evening as the "Hood is Bigger Than You Think Tour culminated with the Crown Jewels of Jazz fund-raising gala Saturday evening in the Music Hall Ballroom.

        Following a sumptuous meal and accolades for “Heart of the Arts” recipients Barbara Gould and Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, the main fare of the evening was served up in grand style with tasty helpings of Diane Schuur and Kathy Wade.

        Ms. Wade, Cincinnati's premier diva, has a day job as the president of Learning Through Art (LTA), a non-profit performing arts organization that augments arts education. The 'Hood Tour is one of LTA's outreach component. The gala not only benefits LTA, but it also provides a chance for Ms. Wade to present and share the stage with some of her idols.

        Internationally acclaimed recording artist Diane Schuur has garnered rave reviews for her extraordinary vocal styles and her triple-octave range. She has two Grammys as best jazz vocalist and has performed twice at the White House. She also bears the unique distinction as being the only national talent to participate in the Crown Jewels concert.

        For Ms. Wade, the evening could have been bittersweet — it was just after last year's gala that she suffered the suddenly loss of her husband and LTA's co-founder, Dan Jenkins. Ever the professional, ebullient Ms. Wade took to the stage with infectious enthusiasm, outshining her shimmering gold gown.

        The energy level was high as she bounded through her opening, “Them There Eyes,” with rapid fire delivery. The Khalid Moss Trio was more than up to the task as it fueled the rhythm.

        Ms. Wade simmered down a tad for a thoughtful turn of ""Here Comes That Rainy Day Again.'' To keep things getting too cool, she turned the burner up full throttle with a scorching vamp of “Fever” that would earn a nod of approval from last year's gala performer, Shirley Horn, as Mr. Moss added more smoke on keyboards.

        A scat-happy Ms. Wade traded riffs with Mr. Moss, bassist Ariel de la Portilla and drummer Melvin Broach on “It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)” before she sequed to a very sensitive, yet sophisticated read of “My One and Only Love.” After announcing “It's Time to Say Goodbye,” Ms. Wade closed her set with a bluesy “Spice of Life.”

        If Ms. Wade was the appetizer, then Ms. Schuur was one magnificent entree. You'd never know from her boundless energy and high octane performance that the pianist/singer was blind from birth.

        Dressed in a sparkling evening pantsuit and backed by a three-piece rhythm section, Ms. Schuur threw sparks as she open she program with her signature piece trading on her nickname, “Deedles is My Name.”

        Her effortless octave leaps were shimmering as Ms. Schuurshowcased the enduring beauty of the standards as she styled Gershwin's “The Man I Love” and Cole Porter's “You Be So Nice to Come Home To,” which featured a pleasant solo by guitarist Derek DiCenzo.

        The “Autumn Leaves” were swinging down amid Ms. Schuur's improvisational scat. “Teach Me Tonight” found the stylist changing keys mid-tune as she bended notes to her willing to the astonished delight of her audience.

        The joy of interpretation again shone through as Ms. Schuur also performed “It Don't Mean A Thing.” Her take on the familiar chestnut was individual and distinct is her hostess's take.

        ""The Very Thought of You” inspired one couple to leave their table to indulge in some cheek-to-cheek dancing before Ms. Schuur continued with “You'd Be So Easy to Love.” featuring solid solos by drummer Reggie Jackson and music director Roger Hines on bass.

        Battling the remains from a bout of bronchitis, Ms. Schuur regrouped from a brief coughing fit to wrap up her program with a really sweet dessert — in a nod to her most recent release, Friends for Schuur, a duet project, Deedles invited her hostess with the mostest to join her on stage to bring down the house with a rousing version of “Muddy Waters.''


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