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Dianne Reeves' most recent release, Beautiful Life, showcases Reeves’ sublime gifts by melding elements of R&B, Latin and pop within the framework of 21st Century jazz. “At its essence,” says Reeves, “Life is beautiful and I wanted to celebrate that which is too often overlooked.”
The album simmers and smolders throughout, starting off with a mesmerizing makeover of the Marvin Gaye classic, “I Want You.” The choice for this song was influenced by the music Reeves grew up listening to at a time when categories and boundaries were not as finite as they are today. Reeves says, “I always loved Marvin Gaye. Not just because he was a great singer, but because his music was soul steeped in jazz.”
In collaboration with Robert Glasper, Reeves breathes new life into Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams, and delivers a beautiful rendition of the rock classic that is haunting and suspenseful. While Ani Difranco’s self-empowering “32 Flavors” had been in Reeves’ live repertoire for some time, this is the first time she has recorded it—and the result is a rousing anthem. “The song is about people doing amazing things that nobody sees,” says Reeves. “It speaks to how we should be more conscious about those around us—those who populate and contribute to our lives.”
Also included is a brilliant version of Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler’s standard, “Stormy Weather,” a song that harkens back to Ethel Waters, Lena Horne and Billie Holiday—all of whom brought the song mainstream and put their stamp on it—and with an openness and floating sense of time, Reeves has now done the same.
Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain” is another jewel in Beautiful Life onto which Reeves has made all her own. “When I brought this amazing song to my friend, Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo, he worked his magic on the arrangement and I couldn’t wait to sing it,” Reeves enthused. The result is thoroughly entrancing.
DIANNE REEVES is among the pre-eminent jazz vocalists in the world. A multiple Grammy-winner, Reeves has recorded and performed extensively with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis, who said of Reeves, “She has one of the most powerful, purposeful and accurate voices of this or any time.” Reeves has also recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim and was a featured soloist with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. In addition, she was the first Creative Chair for Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the first singer to ever perform at the famed Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Reeves worked with legendary producer Arif Mardin (Norah Jones, Aretha Franklin) on the Grammy winning A Little Moonlight, an intimate collection of standards. When Reeves’ holiday collection Christmas Time is Here was released, Ben Ratliff of The New York Times raved, “Ms. Reeves, a jazz singer of frequently astonishing skill, takes the assignment seriously; this is one of the best jazz Christmas CD's I've heard.” Reeves was featured in George Clooney’s six-time Academy Award nominated “Good Night, and Good Luck,” and performed every song on the Grammy-winning soundtrack which was released on Concord Jazz.
More recently, Reeves has toured the world in a variety of contexts including a program entitled “Sing the Truth,” a musical celebration of Nina Simone in which Lizz Wright and Angelique Kidjo were also featured.
In what has been a storied, extraordinary career, Beautiful Life features some of the most engaging songs Reeves’ has ever offered. “Even in a world with much sadness,” says Reeves, “at its essence, life is beautiful and I wanted to celebrate that which can be easily overlooked.” Most certainly, among those things not to be overlooked is Beautiful Life.