Dianne Reeves, JVC Jazz Festival 2004

Dianne Reeves


Carnegie Hall, June 24, 2004:


       Dianne Reeves graces the Carnegie Hall stage at 9:20 P.M. The audience is in great spirits after a tremendous first set performance from the talented Peter Cincotti. Dianne Reeves starts with a slow a cappella vocal introduction that is both delicate and haunting. The musicians blend perfectly with this first musical mood on piano, standup bass, guitar and feather-light brushwork by the drummer. This intro leads up to the first song, “You Go To My Head.” This music is sensuous, touching and subtle. The guitarist utilizes octaves and inventive chord melodies to develop the melodic flow. Dianne has tremendous vocal control and a strong delivery. Her vocal refrain, “you intoxicate my soul,” is deep and penetrating.

       The next composition begins with a walking bass intro by Reuben Rodgers. Dianne sings the title, “I Remember Sarah,” to the delight of her attentive audience. She goes into her ‘skat’ vocal style immediately with Sarah Vaughn’s signature featured throughout. Her skat is strong and controlled with elegant and captivating highs and lows. Her skat is extended, as the band kicks in hard and she encourages their participation with body language and expressive and emotional hand motions. The band swings as the piano, Peter Martin, is featured and the drummer, Greg Hutchinson, is hot and kickin’. The piano and vocal execute a beautiful skat duet, to showcase her close musical interaction with the supporting musicians.

       Dianne Reeves’ musical theme this evening is a tribute to Sarah Vaughn. She describes childhood musical influences from her uncle Charles, who was in several prominent symphony orchestras. She describes listening repeatedly to a recording of Sarah and Clifford Brown, “until the grooves almost wore out.” She uses this dialog to lead us into her next song, from that era, which again showcases her tremendous skat talents. This song features sensationally smooth vocal control and a tremendous ensemble blend. The piano solo is grand and elegant and is primarily consonant with occasionally fleeting dissonant passages. The drummer is featured and solos extensively within the context of the song. Dianne’s next song is slow and sultry and conveys a majestic and ethereal mood. The drummer’s brushes sooth and embrace Dianne’s superior vocal control which is smooth, silky, gutsy and textured with the blues. Dianne sings with long, strong sustain notes that seamlessly vary from consonant to dissonant; with just the right touch of vibrato added at just the right time, to emulate that unique Sarah Vaughn style. The piano solo is thoughtful and restrained and develops the melody carefully, with an excellent choice of rests, for space and clarity. Dianne finishes off with an eloquent a cappella passage of unrivaled and distinguished vocal style and grace.

       Dianne performs, “I Get Misty,” in the most dramatic Sarah Vaughn style. Having seen Sarah Vaughn here at Carnegie Hall several times myself, there is utterly no perceptible difference whatsoever. Her vocal range of highs and lows; her control and phrasing; her timbre and the well-placed vibrato of her notes, as well as her extremely robust baritone range, are amazingly identical to that of Sassy. If I close my eyes, it’s as if I can hear the “Divine One” speaking through the mystical and magical elegance of a new space and time, in Dianne’s voice. There is an excellent piano solo that embellishes the melody. This is an exquisite vocal experience.

       Dianne performs, “Lullaby In Birdland.” This is a tremendous band chart. Dianne’s skat is extraordinary and is closely correlated to the bassist, in a loosely styled duet. Dianne’s melodic control is strong and dynamic and features melodic contrast and control. Dianne is assured and confident. There is a featured guitar solo, which showcases his phenomenal talents, as he plays double time and easily executes flawless crescendo scale runs. The piano embellishes the melody, changing keys seamlessly on another distinguished solo. The bass, piano and drummer’s brushwork fully complement this strong vocal presentation.

       Dianne Reeves performs, “Bridges,” a Brazilian composition. The song is slow and sensual, featuring an amazing acoustic guitar solo that showcases excellent chord melodies as well as flawless scale runs. The song develops into a vocal and guitar duet, which exemplifies musical sensitivity, grandeur and strength. Dianne performs a Peter Gabriel composition, “In Your Eyes.” My sister Jessica, an avid Peter Gabriel fan, comments that the arrangement is so unique, creative and original, that it is almost unrecognizable. The interpretation is brilliant and changes from slow and deliberate to strong and funky. The latter part of the song develops a rhythmically inventive skat vocal complemented by impressive percussion accompaniment.

       Dianne sings, “Show Me Your Eyes.” She is powerful and unique and performs an ingenious arrangement with exceptional vocal quality. The song showcases strong ensemble playing and features an impressive guitar lead. There is a transition to a dreamy musical passage, then into a rocky-rumba style interlude that is lively and upbeat. The band is smokin’. The final number is a lively Latin arrangement to finish off the show. Here the drummer gets the chance to stretch out and show his exceptional performance abilities

       Dianne Reeves puts on a tremendous show tonight. Her vocals are incredibly beautiful and enriching and demonstrate her amazing talents. As for her tribute to Sarah Vaughn, it is simply and unquestionably the best in the world! Close your eyes and it’s Sassy back on the stage with a new and enlightened quality. Dianne Reeves not only pays a glorious tribute to her musical mentor, but also keeps her uniquely creative magic alive for future generations to admire, remember and carry on!

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A.J. Alfaro