As I reported last summer, Dianne Reeves sang at the Ystad Jazz Festival in Sweden with the Norbotten big band in a balanced concert with many noteworthy moments. However, there is nothing like hearing the formidable Ms. Reeves in her preferred context—her own quartet. Before I left the Portland Jazz Festival, I caught her at the Newmark Theatre with pianist Peter Martin, bassist Reginald Veal, drummer Terreon Gully and the remarkable Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo. Effusive and dramatic in a garment of geometric design, she appeared after the quartet warmed up with “Summertime,” a nice touch in wet and wintry Portland.
In a concert characterized by her easy interaction with the band and the audience, she opened with a version Fleetwood Mac’s “You Will Know” incorporating a background vocal by Gully. She followed with Harold Arlen’s “Stormy Weather” and her composition “Nine,” during which she rapped about the joys of childhood and of aging (“I’m about to turn 59,” she told the audience). Then came “All Blues,” “I’m In Love Again,” “Waiting in Vain,” “Beautiful” and an encore in which she and Martin performed a duet on Sammy Cahn’s “You Taught My Heart to Sing,” scatting her way out over Martin’s rich layering of chords. But the acme of her Portland performance came in a duet with Lubambo on Gershwin’s “Our Love is Here to Stay.” To my knowledge, there is no video of the Portland version, but it was recorded last year at Spain’s Festival de Jazz de San Javier. Toward its end, Martin, Veal and Gully join Lubambo and Ms.Reeves.
For the Rifftides review of Ms. Reeves at Ystad, go here.