On August 12, Concord Records and "First Lady of Jazz" Diane Schuur release Midnight, a CD co-written and produced by the legendary Barry Manilow and his long-time collaborator Eddie Arkin. A year in the making, Midnight is a beautifully crafted and lush recording of 13 original tracks, including duets with multi-platinum R&B sensation Brian McKnight, perennial jazz favorite Karrin Allyson, and Manilow himself.
Midnight is a musical collaboration that delights, surprises and seems destined to have a lasting appeal for music audiences worldwide. Much like he did with his own first full jazz album, "2A.M. Paradise Café," Manilow teamed with Arkin to this time create a "suite" concept album that would take the listener from the front door of a smoky jazz club with the opening cut, "Meet Me, Midnight," to the end of their evening with "Anytime," a warm and loving duet featuring Manilow. Other highlights on Midnight include Schuur's take on the Manilow classic, "When October Goes," the Brazilian-inspired "What Is Love?" and the touching "Life is Good," which has quickly become Schuur's anthem. McKnight is featured on the R&B tinged "I'll Be There," and Allyson duets with Schuur for the battling jazz-diva tune, "Stay Away From Bill."
Midnight proves to be the perfect showcase for Schuur's luminous three-and-a-half octave range and sophisticated phrasing. Add to the mix, lush orchestrations with vibrant string, rhythms and horn sections, and Diane just might be right when she predicts, "I think these tunes are new standards, on their way to becoming classics in the annals of jazz and pop." "For Barry and I, this project presented a platform to create songs we didn't have to tone down," explains Arkin. "The plus point was that we knew Diane had the chops to meet anything we created musically."
Since first stepping onstage to sing at age nine, Deedles, as she has been known since childhood, has earned respect and garnered praise from such legendary musicians as Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and B.B. King. Stan Getz became an important mentor after hearing her perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1979. Leonard Feather, the venerable father of contemporary jazz criticism, rightly dubbed Schuur, "a singer with all the right qualities-technique, range, adaptability to various pop, gospel, jazz and blues concepts." Deedles, who has been blind since birth, first worked with Manilow on Swing Street, when she performed "Summertime" with Getz.
Recalling how the Midnight project first began, Manilow says, "I called Deedles, told her I'd love to produce her, and she said, 'let's go.'" Following one pre-production session, he writes in an email to her about his awe for his close friend: "Yesterday was a revelation for me. I'd known how wonderful a singer you are, but I really had no idea about the depth and brilliance of your musicianship. You blew all of us away. Most of all me."
Manilow is regarded as one of the most successful and universally recognized entertainers of all time. With over 60 million albums sold and numerous Top 10 Hits, his career skyrocketed with the hit single "Mandy" in 1974 and just never stopped. Every project he has produced (Bette Midler, Dionne Warwick and Nancy Wilson) has been nominated for a GRAMMY®. In 2002, he was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. An Emmy nominated composer, Arkin has teamed with Manilow previously, co-producing his albums Swing Street, Show Stoppers, Because It's Christmas, as well as Nancy Wilson's With My Lover Beside Me.
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