For a long while, I wasn’t too sure about Schuur. My unflagging admiration for the enormity of her vocal prowess was continually tainted by my distaste for her implacable penchant for histrionic razzle-dazzle. She was, to me, like the Ethel Merman of jazz: undeniably gifted yet annoyingly bombastic. Now, at last, Schuur has crafted an album, comprising a dozen tracks meant to salute the music she grew up with in her parents’ home in Auburn, Wash., that is all gentle strengths with no grandiose weaknesses. While, at age 54, Schuur’s brassy instrument shows not a hint of tarnish, it is here burnished with a softer patina. Her bright, ofttimes distracting, vocal shine has been replaced by a gentle, alluring glow. Not too long ago Schuur would have ridden “Blue Skies,” “Taking a Chance on Love,” “They Say It’s Wonderful,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and “Beginner’s Luck” like a pack of wild horses. Here they’re not tamed, but skillfully reined.
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