There are plenty of great singers in the world, performing in an array of musical styles. But there aren't nearly as many freak-of-nature vocal talents. Dianne Reeves is definitely one of the freaks.
The Grammy-winning jazz vocalist filled the room and thrilled the audience at Monday's installation of the Jazz at the Sheraton concert series. Filling her two sets with witty asides, impromptu vocal gymnastics and stunning takes on 13 songs spanning her career, Reeves proved to be a true force of nature.
Her multi-octave range allows Reeves to be just as powerful as she reaches for stratospheric highs as when diving into a deep growl. I'd call her an incredible belter, but she's too refined for that. Her voice is a combination of natural talent and incredibly disciplined training ever since she was a child in Denver.
And as dedicated Reeves is to jazz, she's not above messing with the form in the name of fun, and she made sure the audience on hand Monday had a great time. Her stories about teaching her 85-year-old mother how to video-chat, or adding a little Sarah Vaughn-style wailing to a classical recital in high school, kept the crowd laughing between performances that regularly stunned them into silence thanks to Reeves' pipes.
After a short warm-up jam by Reeves rock-solid band—pianist Peter Martin, bassist Josh Hari, guitarist Peter Sprague and drummer Terreon Gully—Reeves kicked things off with the romantic "The Twelfth of Never," a choice I'm thinking she made thanks to its references to "melting like April snow," given the snowstorm swirling outside. After the ultra-smooth opener, Reeves scatted her way into the sexy "Social Call" and the sultry "One for My Baby," the latter from her Grammy-winning soundtrack to Good Night, and Good Luck.
It was just the second gig for bassist Hari in Reeves' band, and he was given a chance to "duet" with Reeves on the stunning-yet-simple "I'm in Love Again" from Reeves' most-recent album, When You Know. Reeves ended her first set with another new tune, "Today Will Be a Good Day," inspired by her mother's words of wisdom.
The second set somehow managed to top the first, with Reeves giving her band plenty of chances to shine as she bounded through blues, soul and funk along with jazz. Her take on Nina Simone's "Be My Husband" was incredible, full of hard-funk licks from her band. "Windmills of Your Mind" featured a bit of a psychedelic instrumental workout mid-song, and her version of Sarah Vaughn staple "Misty" was a winner.
Reeves shut down the show with the title track of "When You Know." And there was no doubt the audience exited knowing they had just witnessed something truly great.