2005-05-12 / Arts & Entertainment

Latin Rhythms Spice Up Jazz Vocalist’s New Recording

Diane Schuur featuring Caribbean Jazz Project, “Schuur Fire’’ (Concord Picante)

Diane Schuur is a passionate, in-ventive jazz vocalist who isn’t content to settle for the sure thing — and these qualities come to the fore on this collaboration with vibes-marimba player Dave Samuels’ Caribbean Jazz Project. With a major assist from Brazilian guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, who produced and arranged the CD as well as provided accompaniment on several tracks, Schuur has come up with a different twist here, creating a Latin-tinged album that mostly features tunes not associated with Latin music.

The CJP’s Latin rhythms spice up Schuur’s repertoire of older and newer standards, including “Lover Come Back To Me,” done as an uptempo ballad driven by some fiery percussion; James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” and Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World” and Stevie Wonder’s “As,” both of which feature Schuur multi-tracking her voice to provide her own background vocals. Schuur pulls out all the stops and showcases her soaring multi-octave vocal range on Cole Porter’s “So In Love,” with hot solos from trumpeter Diego Ur-cola and Samuels; while showing a softer and more restrained side on the yearning “More Than You Know,” a tune made popular by Frank Sinatra.

Schuur does include several tunes with authentic Latin roots — Sergio Mendes’ bossa nova “Look Around,” Ivan Lins’ wistful “Confession” with new lyrics written for Schuur, and a Mexican ballad, “Yellow Days,” that ends the session on a mellow note.

But what Schuur mostly sets out to do here — and she largely succeeds — is re-imagining non-Latin tunes in sync with her CJP bandmates. Nowhere is that more evident than on “I Can’t Stop Loving You” — a country tune which Ray Charles already put his own stamp on — sung here to a backdrop of vibes, marimba, trumpet and Latin guitar.

Charles J. Gans, AP Writer

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, “Cold Roses’’ (Lost Highway)

There are some Ryan Adams fans who believe his 2000 solo debut, “Heartbreaker,’’ was his best work. But they might rethink that notion after listening to “Cold Roses.’’

The double-disc set shows a maturity in Adams that has never been seen before — a maturity that acknow-ledges art from kitsch. With “Cold Roses,’’ Adams lets the music speak for itself. And the music doesn’t just speak — it sings as beautifully as Adams’ does, from the desperate bittersweet pleading of “Sweet Illusion,” as he sings “let me go, I’m only letting you down,’’ to the upbeat, James Taylor-flavored “When Will You Come Back Home,” and to the dreamy coun-try twang of “Easy Plateau.’’

The Cardinals are the first full band Adams has collaborated with since the release of “Heartbreaker” in 2000. The bands sound is comparative to the Grateful Dead — Cindy Cashdol-lar caresses the steal guitar with the same sensuality as Jerry Garcia would have back in the day. It seems that Adams, a self-proclaimed Deadhead, has found a band that suits this influence. “Cherry Lane’’ could possibly be an outtake from the “Workingman’s Dead’’ studio sessions. The darling songstress Rachael Yamagata sings backup on several tracks, including the Saint Steven-inspired title track and the first single “Let it Ride” which is reminiscent of Adams’ early days with his first band, Whiskeytown.

While his output may be a bit much for some — there are 18 tracks on “Cold Roses,” and two more al-bums are slated for this year — the fact that these songs are good old rocking tunes is undeniable, and there can never be a surplus of good music.

Carrie Tolles, AP Writer

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