RHYTHM CHANGES: Singing "Russians" by Sting like it's a brand-new song
Melody Diachun's new album is all Sting songs with a quartet of piano-guitar-bass-drums
By Lavender Sutton | October 25, 2022
Melody Diachun, a vocalist based in Nelson, BC for the past decade, interprets one of the best living songwriters on her latest album – Sumner's Tales: The Music of Sting.
Though Sting's raspy vocals with The Police and his hit songs – from both the band and his solo career – are well-loved and familiar, Diachun’s deep-dive into the archives of Sting’s songbook is admirable.
Diachun takes on smash hits like "Fields of Gold" and "Roxanne" but also brings attention to other songs like "Murder by Numbers" and "When We Dance".
The band that joins her is a big part of the album's appeal. They are a force to be reckoned with on each song, bringing new life to it – whether it’s with a new arrangement, a new groove, or just the joy that can so often flow from Sting’s music.
The album begins with a driving rhythmic line in "King of Pain" and the clarity and richness of Diachun’s voice. A solid entrance, this track has sufficient Police vibes plus an extra sprinkling of modern jazz.
"Fields of Gold" is probably the most popular composition on the album. Diachun’s arrangement doesn’t stray far from the original, but by the end, there’s a soulfulness that gets heightened by Michael Occhipinti’s gorgeous guitar solo.
The other most famous song is "Fragile", which lends itself brilliantly to the arrangement in 5/4 time. It feels natural, like the composition could have been written this way. It also highlights the serious heavyweights in the band; piano and guitar play off each other well, as they do on "I Burn For You".
Diachun’s voice suits the collection of songs beautifully, not sounding too much like Sting but holding dedication and love for the music. She is able to move from softly enticing in "Roxanne" to seductively grooving on "Murder by Numbers".The combination of Doug Stephenson’s steady bass with Tony Ferraro’s funky, percussive applications on the latter tune – leading into a wicked drum solo – is superb.
Also worth a mention is the lesser-known song "Russians" which Diachun has thoughtfully included. The lyrics, written for Sting's debut solo album in 1985, couldn’t be more relevant today.
Overall a stellar undertaking, well worth checking out, Sting fan or not.
Sumner's Tales: The Music of Sting – King of Pain; Fragile; Fields of Gold; Walking on the Moon; I Burn for You; Russians; Murder by Numbers; Roxanne; When We Dance; Tea in the Sahara; Consider Me Gone; Shape of My Heart. (1h6m)
Personnel: Melody Diachun on vocals; David Restivo on piano; Michael Occhipinti on guitar; Doug Stephenson on bass; Tony Ferraro on drums.
TINNITIST: Melody Diachun | Fields Of Gold: Exclusive Premiere
The Canadian jazz singer takes Sting's wistful classic in a bold new direction.
By Darryl Sterdan | September 16, 2022
Melody Diachun goes on a seductive stroll through Sting’s wistful Fields Of Gold in her gorgeous new single — premiering exclusively on Tinnitist.
A preview of the celebrated Canadian jazz vocalist’s upcoming fifth album Sumner’s Tales: The Music of Sting, the shimmering Fields Of Gold takes you on a sweet sonic journey in a rich sonic landscape. Over the course of six sublime minutes, the track gradually builds from a late-night piano ballad to a quietly muscular full-band jaunt, with swirling keyboards, stinging guitar work and brushed drums meshing seamlessly beneath Diachun’s warm, welcoming vocals. Together, they explore and expose new layers of depth and meaning in Sting’s soothing, Celtic-tinged 1993 classic.
A talented vocalist, songwriter and performer praised for her soulful confidence, exquisite intonation, phrasing, and sense of time, Diachun has a penchant for pairing atypical material with improvising musicians. She takes a bold step with Sumner’s Tales, remaining faithful to the essence of the Police singer-bassist and songwriter’s works, be they huge hits like Roxanne or B-sides like Murder By Numbers. Meanwhile, Diachun’s bandmates roam free over grooves and soundscapes that run the gamut from lush to bombastic. The album features Melody’s long-time collaborators: Pianist David Restivo, guitarist Michael Occhipinti, bassist Doug Stephenson and drummer Tony Ferraro.
Other notable recordings from Diachun’s catalog include EQ and Metaphora by Altered Laws, which was nominated for a Juno for Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year in 2008 and won Outstanding Jazz Album at the 2008 Western Canadian Music Awards. Melody was nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year and the 2009 Canadian National Jazz Awards and for Artist of the Year at the Kootenay Music Awards in 2018 and 2019.
TORONTO MUSIC REPORT Reviews "Get Back To The groove"
By Raul Da Gama | July 12, 2018
This short programme by the Québec-born, British Colombia-based vocalist Melody Diachun is a timely reminder that while she may not record as frequently as other young musicians she is – and will always be – a force to reckon with in contemporary vocal music. On the sultry, bluesy music of Get Back to the Groove Miss Diachun lays out the case for her formidable and alluring talent in just five short songs. Of course it does not take five songs to catch on to Miss Diachun’s remarkable flair, it takes just a few bars on the cheeky opening number “Sharp Dressed Man”. The momentum, clarity and allure of her voice flows right into the witty narrative of that song and from there onto “That’s What Delete is For”, another song that Miss Diachun unfolds with a blend of saucy humour and grace in her stylish turn of phrase.
Although short on time (it’s an extended-play after all) Get Back to the Groove is a sparkling, action-packed affair, the repertoire performed by Miss Diachun and her band in a seamlessly controlled fashion. The disc has all the elements that assure it of success: astonishingly fine instrumentalism from all of the players – somehow Doug Stephenson’s hot guitar licks and Clinton Swanson’s dramatic saxophone soli make a combustive impression – and then there is also the element of risky exuberance on the part of Miss Diachun, who adds that element to all of the other ones in her already impressive musical armoury. All of this makes one yearn for more from this rather fine vocalist and musician.
Tracklist – 1: Sharp Dressed Man; 2: That’s What Delete is For; 3: Eleanor Rigby; 4: High Definition Love; 5: Get Back to the Groove
Personnel – Melody Diachun: lead vocals, background vocals and percussion; Andrew Matthews: background vocals; Clinton Swanson: tenor saxophone; Chris Gestrin: Hammond B3 organ; Chris Andrew: keys; Doug Stephenson: guitar, bass and keyboards; Mark Spielman: bass; Tony Ferraro: drums
KOOTENAY CO-OP RADIO Reviews "Get Back To The groove"
By Neil Sorochan | May 31, 2018
Fresh new release from Nelson local Melody Diachun, faculty at Selkirk College's Music program where she specialises in Vocal performance instruction. This EP is a great showcase of her strong vocal abilities, and it features a nice balance of Originals and some tasteful covers including tunes made famous by The Beatles and ZZ Top! Very well recorded and engineered this release features Melody's Husband Doug Stephenson on Guitar as well as mixing and recording duties, also in on the session local Sax legend Clinton Swanson and Drummer Tony Ferraro!
WJTU 91.1 FM Reviews "Get Back To The Groove"
"NEW JAZZ ADDS" By Dave Rogers - July 12, 2018
Canadian singer/songwriter Melody Diachun offers a new EP that features three original songs and covers of “Eleanor Rigby” and “Sharp Dressed Man” all sounding very jazzy and in control. She co-wrote two of the three originals with Doug Stephenson (guitar, bass, keys) and is also supported by Andrew Matthews (backing vocals), Clinton Swanson (tenor sax), Chris Gestrin (B3), Chris Andrew (keys), Mark Spielman (bass) and Tony Ferraro (drums). The sound is current with a decided bit of swing. She is very popular in Canada and I suspect we’ll hear a lot more from her. Click here to listen to what sounds like the best of her originals to me.
“She is – and will always be – a force to reckon with in contemporary vocal music. On the sultry, bluesy music of Get Back to the Groove Miss Diachun lays out the case for her formidable and alluring talent in just five short songs.” – Raul da Gama, Toronto Music Report
"Melody Diachun lays down a bluesy groove, capturing the funk of the ’70s and the jazz cool of the ’60s at the same time." – Mark Anthony Brennan, Ride the Tempo music blog
“A jazz singer of the first order." – Joseph Blake, Times Colonist
“One understated aspect of Vancouver's music scene is the depth of musicians playing jazz. Tonight's band reflects that depth. The Melody Diachun EQ has been aptly described as a rising star and why not - the band is doing something a little different. Their sound harkens back to the 70s but is decidedly current . . . They took command of CBC Vancouver's Studio One at last year's Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and they'll command your ears tonight on Canada Live.” – Garvia Bailey, “Canada Live” national broadcast on CBC Radio One
"'Sensual' is the word! . . . Melody flows effortlessly between her own compositions and those of others." – Katie Malloch, former CBC host
“Original material that catches the ear . . . Diachun has a warm, accomplished voice which shows a formidable range.” – Marke Andrews, The Vancouver Sun
“A voice and a personality that team up to make a new listener a fan before the first chorus even comes around. Personable, confident and utterly accomplished, she is just plain fun to listen to.” – Jim Sinclair, Castlegar News
“Unembroidered, pitch-perfect voice.” – Malcolm Parry, Vancouver Sun
“She has perfect phrasing! It’s scary.” – Kenny Werner, jazz pianist & author
“Melody Diachun has a voice that might best be described as friendly, warm and inviting. . . . An emerging voice in Canadian jazz. . . . It's a voice easily capable of entrancing the listener. Not overpowering, it has that friendliness that makes listening a relaxing, joyous occasion.” – Calvin Daniels, Yorkton This Week
"A vocalist fast becoming one of the music's more daring chanteuses . . . this record simmers with emotion almost like a slow burn as the singer continues to showcase exquisite intonation, phrasing and sense of time. . . . Melody Diachun has negotiated her way through this record with soulful confidence and gives notice that her vocal prowess is on the rise and is easy to be mesmerized by." – Raul d’Gama Rose, All About Jazz
“Vancouver-based Melody Diachun is another fine singer-songwriter with a strong new disc. . . . An appealing mix of funked up jazz and folk . . . Diachun’s controlled, sometimes breathy, centered sound is a perfect foil for the interplay between the other musicians . . . and it all adds up to a tight, cohesive whole.” – Cathy Riches, WholeNote Magazine
"Melody Diachun teams up with a stellar lineup of fellow Vancouverites . . . playing a repertoire of smart, original songs and clever jazz renditions of modern pop songs. . . . Retro-recorded direct to two-inch tape, the studio sound is warm and funky. Diachun's nuanced readings ride the band's hip, updated fusion, and her understated approach and subtle phrasing mark her as a jazz singer of the first order." – Joseph Blake, Times Colonist
“Diachun has a warm and expressive voice, her long notes are wonderful and she is expert at placing notes.” – Scott Yannow, All Music Guide
“Diachun's penchant for selecting and writing adventurous tunes keeps it interesting. . . . All show remarkable vocal dexterity, with Diachun able to toy with the lyrics in a patient manner.” – George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly
"Vancouver vocalist Melody Diachun straddles pop and jazz forms on EQ, which showcases her songwriting skills on five of the 10 tracks. . . . Diachun’s clear–voiced delivery and adherence to straight melody lines are more Sarah McLachlan than Sarah Vaughan, with the jazz approach coming from her backing quartet . . . Diachun performs fine covers of Paul Simon’s Still Crazy, Joni Mitchell’s Free Man in Paris and Radiohead’s High and Dry, where she shows her considerable range." – Marke Andrews, Vancouver Sun
Melody Diachun Trio performance and interview
Published February 9, 2022
"What a incredible pleasure to have Melody Diachun Trio live in our studio in Nelson!
Melody Diachun - voice, David Restivo - piano, Doug Stephenson - acoustic bass performed music from Melody's debut album "Lullaby of the Leaves" now in it's 20th anniversary year, as well as a preview of songs they will be recording with Michael Occhipinti and Tony Ferraro on their upcoming 2022 album."
Under The Bridge: Melody Diachun interview
Published April 12, 2021
An accomplished vocalist with a voice of gold, get to know Melody Diachun. With host Sheldon Button.
Getting up close and personal with Indie artists in BC, Canada.
Make A Scene Canada: Melody Diachun interview
Published June 23, 2020
Meet the lovely and talented Melody Diachun. With host Cherelle Jardine.
Join Cherelle and explore the songs and stories of our talented Canadian artists and music industry leaders.
Cherelle digs deep, the interviews are very conversational and she has a fun-loving way of getting artists to open up about their musical journey.
Cherelle is quoted as saying, "Make a Scene started out with my husband Marc Gladstone (Prism) and I lamenting about the state of the music scene in Vancouver, and how hard it is to get people out of their homes and into the venues. So we started a Facebook page for artists to post their upcoming gigs. We wanted to kick start the local music scene, you know, when you build it, they will come. Within no time people started joining the page and promoting their shows"... and music lovers started coming out in droves!
Cherelle was so inspired by the success, that she created a radio show, "Make a Scene Canada" which was picked up by Pacific Northwest Radio.
From Colin James to Jeff Martin (Tea Party), Jane Siberry to Todd Kerns, Make a Scene Canada is a go-to for discovering new artists and their music as well, music from our Canadian Icons.
"Selkirk College Music Program Instructor Hits the Summer Road"
By Bob Hall - June 4, 2018
A summer of music awaits Contemporary Music & Technology Instructor Melody Diachun who is fresh off her new release and hitting the road to tour the EP Get Back Into the Groove. Diachun and her band perform on Nelson's Tenth Street Campus on June 21.
It’s the perfect summer break for a post-secondary music instructor: pack up the band and tour a new album through the landscapes of British Columbia.
Melody Diachun released her latest EP Get Back to the Grooveearlier this month and the Selkirk College Contemporary Music & Technology ProgramInstructor will now spend most of June on the road. The ideal jazz singer for the 21st Century, the JUNO Award nominee continues to build on her knowledge and experience in the industry that is then passed onto a new generation at Nelson’s Tenth Street Campus when classes resume in September.
"My colleagues and I are all working musicians and that has been a key ingredient to the success of the program since it started in the late-1980s,” says Diachun, who began teaching at Selkirk College in 2012. “We teach what we know. I think it's important for students to see us walk-the-walk. Continuing to record and tour also helps me stay on top of the many rapid changes in the music industry."
Finding the Right Fit with Mentorship
Diachun has a very appealing and friendly voice, a subtle but exciting improvising style, and is open to the influences of current pop and R&B music. Her brand of groove-jazz is both creative and accessible, appealing to a wide audience while being joyfully unpredictable.
Celebrating two decades of writing and performing music together, the nucleus of the recording is Diachun as the vocalist-songwriter and guitarist-bassist, co-writer, mixing engineer, producer, and husband Doug Stephenson.
“Get Back to the Groovemarks the premiere recording of our newly formed label, Third Beach Records,” says Diachun. “Since moving to the Kootenays in 2012, we have developed a cohesive sound and camaraderie of a true band with the musicians heard on the recording.”
The band includes Clinton Swanson on tenor sax, Mark Spielman on electric bass and Tony Ferraro on drums. The recording is augmented by long-time collaborators Chris Andrew on keys and Chris Gestrin on Hammond B3, and by one of Diachun’s former Selkirk College voice students, Andrew Matthews, on background vocals.
Get Back to the Grooveis Diachun’s fourth recording and focuses on irresistible originals, unexpected covers, and compelling grooves.
Originally from Montreal, Diachun graduated from McGill University’s Jazz Performance Program and was living in Vancouver when she received a Facebook message from a friend about a job opening at Selkirk College. Though she had never been to Nelson, Diachun had heard of the Contemporary Music & Technology Program so she decided to apply.
“I was invited to join the faculty starting in August of 2012 and my husband and I packed up our lives and moved to the Kootenays,” says Diachun, who teaches Songwriting, Vocal Labs, Ensembles and The Business of Music. “It didn't take long for us to decide we wanted to stay. I love working with the students and helping them realize their musical aspirations. There is a lot of music in the Kootenays which allows my husband and I the opportunity to continue to perform and record. We love Nelson's beauty, live-and-let-live attitude… and skiing!”
The Get Back to the Groove Tour 2018 kicks off at Calgary’s JazzYYC Summer Festivalon June 15. From there the band will make their way back to British Columbia on a six-show June run that includes Cranbrook, Enderby, Vancouver, Duncan and Victoria. Diachun will perform at Nelson’s Shambhala Music & Performance Hall on the Selkirk College Tenth Street Campus on June 21. Her summer also includes a Music in the Park Concert Series stop in Castlegar (July 25), the Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival(August 3) and the Trail Concerts in the Park Series (August 23).
The June 21 show in Nelson starts at 7:30 p.m. with doors opening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available at Otter Books in Nelson or at the door. Get Back to the Grooveis available now on iTunes, Amazon MP3 and Spotify.
For more information on Melody Diachun head to her website.
Learn more about the Selkirk College Contemporary Music & Technology Program and join us on Facebook.