Saturday, April 20, 2013

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
An evening with Dianne Reeves

Today, let's take a look at some videos of singer Dianne Reeves, who's coming back to St. Louis to perform next Saturday, April 27 at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Reeves has been a frequent visitor here in recent years. She appeared at the Sheldon in December 2005 as part of a large cast of musicians at a post-Hurricane Katrina fund-raising benefit, and came back to headline at Washington University's Edison Theatre in May 2007. She was back at the Sheldon for another show in October 2008, and performed there most recently in February 2010 in a duo with her longtime pianist and music director, St. Louis' Peter Martin, to help him kick off his eponymous concert series at the hall.

Often to compared to the classic jazz singers of the 1940s, 50s and 60s, particularly Sarah Vaughan, Reeves was born in Detroit and raised in Denver as part of a musical family. (One especially notable relative is her cousin, pianist and composer George Duke.) At the age of 16, she sang with her high school big band at the National Association of Jazz Educators convention and attracted the attention of another St. Louisan, the great trumpeter Clark Terry, who became an early mentor.

After graduating from high school, Reeves moved to Los Angeles, where she met pianist Eduardo del Barrio and eventually began touring with his band Caldera. She continued to pay dues over the next few years by touring with pianist Billy Childs' band Night Flight, Sérgio Mendes, and Harry Belafonte before launching her solo career in the mid-1980s. Over the course of her career she's made dozen of appearances on record in support of others, and has released a total of 19 albums as a leader, including four that won Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Performance in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2006.

Today's video clips will show you some of what Reeves has been doing since her last visit here to St. Louis. Up above, you'll find the first part of her complete set from Jazzwoche Burghausen 2012, with parts two and three down below. In addition to Peter Martin on piano, Reeves' band on this gig included another musician from our area, East St. Louisan Terreon Gully on drums, as well as bassist Reginald Veal and guitarist Romero Lubambo.

Below that, you can see Reeves and the groups performing an arrangement of Gershwin's "Fascinating Rhythm" recorded last August with the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine at the Jazz in Marciac festival in France. (This is an audience-shot video, so the camera work is a little shaky but the sound is good.)

The fifth clip features an excerpt from another 2012 show, with Reeves, Lubambo and guitarist Russell Malone engaging in a bit of freeform vocal and guitar improvisation, then launching into a version of Reeves' song "Mista" that seems to owe a debt to bluesman John Lee Hooker. For the final clip, we go back in time a version of "Skylark" recorded in 2005 at Jazz Baltica that serves a nice showcase for the ballad stylings of both Reeves and Martin.

For more about Dianne Reeves, see this 2011 interview with Jazz Times, her page at NPR music, and this 2008 interview with radio station WBGO.

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