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Brassy Jazz with the Soul of a Child

Diane Schuur really belts out the jazz standard "September in the Rain." She takes that old chestnut about "leaves of brown" that tumble down and she heats it up with her brassy tone, adding just the right hint of rue. Her backup, a pianist whose touch is both light and lush, is surely a George Shearing disciple.

The cut comes from Some Other Time, Schuur's new album of classic jazz tunes, and it's a standout, for more reasons than one. Not only does the song vibrate with toe-tapping verve, but its back story is utterly amazing. When she sang this song, Schuur was a mere 10 years old. A reel-to-reel recorder captured her 1964 performance at a Holiday Inn in her native Washington State.

As a child who was blind since birth, Schuur had already soaked up the great Dinah Washington's soulful style. And when Schuur broadly bellows "though spring is here," it could just as easily be Ethel Merman. But this is no mere imitation. Schuur's poised, pitch-perfect rendition reflects the joy of a child exploring an extraordinary gift. She doesn't sound the least bit like a little girl, and her upbeat take makes it very clear: The young Diane Schuur was not about to be depressed by September in the rain.

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Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.
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