How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Dianne Reeves is one of the most charismatic and exciting live performers in modern jazz. In the Moment, recorded over two nights in front of an invited audience on a Los Angeles sound stage, is an effort to capture on disc the kind of magic that Ms. Reeves generates in her club and concert appearances. It is also arguably the most consistent and enjoyable recording of her career.
Ms. Reeves is the kind of musician who works more with the illusion of spontaneity rather than the real thing. The performances on this live CD have a polish and professionalism most singers can’t match even in a studio. Of course, most singers are not as extravagantly gifted as Ms. Reeves. Her powerful contralto is notable for both its clarity and the exactness of its pitch. The sheer beauty of that instrument is immediately apparent on the opening song, a radiant treatment of the hymn “Morning Has Broken.” Ms. Reeves uses her voice with care and defines and articulates her notes with an impressive precision. When she chooses to scat, her improvising is nothing less than astonishing. On an exciting “Love for Sale,” she fires through a series of notes with the speed and power of a machine gunner and the accuracy of a sharpshooter. Ms. Reeves’ rhythmic vocabulary is similarly impressive. She incorporates African rhythms (as on an explosive “Afro Blue”), Latin and Brazilian rhythms, and R&B grooves with equal facility. She is as comfortable with the tender intimacy of Milton Nascimento’s “Bridges,” performed as a duet with Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo, as she is with the driving intensity of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne.” Ms. Reeves' own songs, of which she has included five, are strongly autobiographical and reflect her positive, self-empowering outlook on life.
Over the last couple of years, Dianne Reeves has taken her work to a new level and In the Moment radiates with the joy and optimism of an artist at the peak of her powers. When, during “The First Five Chapters,” she sings, “Feeling healthy/Feeling fine/Feeling prosperous/So the whole world is mine,” you can’t help but believe her.
Track Listing: Morning Has Broken, Afro Blue, The First Five Chapters, Triste, Bridges, Love for Sale, Come In, The Best Times (Grandma's Song), Testify, Suzanne, Mista.