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Published: Friday, 5/2/2003

Sultry singer blends many musical genres

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

There are no lines dividing the musical styles and interests of Dianne Reeves.

Jazz, blues, pop, gospel, R&B, Latin, Caribbean - everything flows together smoothly for this sultry singer who performs tomorrow night at the Valentine Theatre.

“It's all one thing to me,” Reeves said in an interview this week. “I just have a broad pallet. It's like learning different languages. You learn the language so you can say something and speak effectively.”

Clearly, she knows how to communicate: Reeves' last two releases won Grammy Awards, and in 2001 she won the Jazz Journalists Award for Female Singer of the Year. Next week she will receive an honorary doctor of music degree - along with Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler - from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

The singer, who was born in Detroit in 1956 and reared in Denver, said winning the second Grammy, for her 2002 Blue Note Records release “The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan,” was particularly rewarding.

“The year before I won for `In the Moment,' but I really wanted it for `The Calling' because this was so much a labor of love, and because we put so much work into it.”

She said that Vaughan, the legendary singer known as “Sassy” who died in 1990 at age 76, inspired a search for individuality.

“She changed my way of listening, and all of a sudden I had a place to reach for in my own singing,” Reeves said. “I have a lot of favorite singers, but she was the one who kind of opened the door and made me realize that it's important to have your own voice and to really, really explore your instrument and be the best that you can be.”

“I had been looking at her records, but when I saw her sitting on a couch I didn't know who she was,” Reeves recalled.

The two struck up a friendly conversation and Reeves casually mentioned that she was a jazz singer.

“She asked me who I listened to and I said, `Sarah Vaughan.' She just smiled,” Reeves said. “Later, when she got up onstage, I was like, `Uh oh!'”

Last year was a busy one for Reeves, who sang at the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics; performed in the season finale of the HBO series Sex and the City; earned the Ella Fitzgerald Award at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, and was the subject of a Blue Note Records retrospective titled “The Best of Dianne Reeves.”

The singer said she has just put the wraps on her 12th album, “A Little Moonlight,” due for release in August on Blue Note. Reeves described the new disc as “an intimate collection of jazz standards” on which she is accompanied by pianist Peter Martin, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Greg Hutchinson - the same trio that will join her onstage at the Valentine.

Reeves likes to keep things flexible. “I never really have a set,” she said. “I call the songs as we perform - whatever the moment demands.”

Dianne Reeves and trio will be in concert at 8 p.m. tomorrow in the Valentine Theatre, 400 North Superior St. Tickets are $20 to $45 from the box office, 419-242-2787.



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