Dianne Reeves with the Dianne Reeves Quartet.
Her Majesty’s Theatre. Adelaide Cabaret Festival. June 12. 2017
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
Imagine a river, flowing freely from the melting snow, veering into a babbling brook and splashing sparkling across the smooth stones and into a streaming current to cascade with glorious sound into the deep valley below. It is the voice of iconic jazz vocalist, Dianne Reeves, in Adelaide at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival for only one performance to a packed and ecstatic audience. With her on stage and in perfect harmony with her incandescent vocal rhythms and shifting, sliding tempos is her Dianne Reeves Quartet. Peter Martin on piano, Reginald Veal on bass, Terreon Gully on percussion and Romero Lubambo on guitar create an incomparable pattern of jazz sequences, swelling the house with seductive improvised spontaneity and unique arrangements. The audience is already transfixed before Reeves sidles onto the stage to transport us to her dreamworld of vocal magic.
Thirty four years upon the stages of the world; five Grammy Awards, including a double Grammy whammy in consecutive years and an honorary doctorate from Juilliard are testament enough to her astounding vocal talent, amazing range and dexterity and a warmth and generosity, embraced in a sung greeting at her first Adelaide concert to an enchanted and bewitched audience. “Sit back and relax” she sings in honeyed tones and we are instantly under her spell. We are in the presence of jazz royalty. Singer and musicians meld into a jazz affair of love as Reeves’ voice soars from the tribal plains of Africa to the steamy sounds of New Orleans and a kaleidoscope of Latin, magically accompanied by flamenco wizard, Lubambo on guitar, R&B and pop. She holds us in a trance with her arrangements of songs such as Johnny Mathis’s Twelfth of Never, Bob Marley’s Waiting in Vain and her idol Ella Fitzgerald’s The man I Love, backed by the “real deal” Reginald Veal on Double Bass. and Love is Here to Stay. She interrupts her song to recount the time that she walked in Ella Fitzgerald’s blue pump shoes at The Toolshed.Through it all, we share the charisma of a singer, genuine in her love of her art, loving of people and as colourful as her outfits. Her originality shines in a number about the number 9, and the journey through the ages of 9 to her last nine before 60. By the time the next nine comes around, this jazzy woman won’t give a damn. Reeves evokes the spirit of innocence, imagination and a youthful heart: a life of peace, love and joy.
A rousing chorus of call and response fills the house and the evening is over far too soon. As she began, she sings her farewell and leaves her quartet to let seduction hang upon the rhythm and sounds of a rapturous evening in the company of the incomparable Dianne Reeves and her Dianne Reeves Quartet. Her river of song flows out to a sea of unforgettable memory.