Dianne Reeves has been one of the top singers in jazz ever since the late '80s. A logical successor to Dinah Washington and Carmen McRae (although even she can't reach the impossible heights of Ella and Sarah Vaughan), Reeves is a superior interpreter of lyrics and a skilled scat singer.
Vocalist Dianne Reeves is coming off back to back Grammys for two highly orchestrated efforts: the Sarah Vaughan tribute Calling , and her live set In the Moment. For A Little Moonlight , she has stripped down this approach and used an intimate format to present captivating versions of jazz standards. A Little Moonlight is Reeves plain and candid, highlighting her wide ranging voice in all its glory. Energizing as she scats and swings on the up tempo numbers, she then seductively melts you by plunging down low for deeply rich contraltic renderings.
The Music for Lovers series from EMI and Blue Note spotlights the balladic nature and romantic side of the artists who have recorded for its associated labels. Dianne Reeves performs in a variety of settings here, singing standards from the vocal jazz world as well as R&B and art rock. Beginning with an excellent 1982 reading of "My Funny Valentine" with Billy Childs, the volume picks up two Reeves performances from the late '80s.
It doesn't happen often enough, but every once in a while a new jazz singer will emerge with all of the classic elements associated with the genre: stellar phrasing, authentic emotion, tasteful inflection, and expertise at selecting appropriate material. Such elements are on hand for Dianne Reeves' self-titled 1987 debut.
This disc reissues Dianne Reeves' entire 1982 LP Welcome to My Love, plus three tracks from 1985's For Every Heart and one selection from her days as a vocalist with the band Caldera. It contains the first recorded version of her classic "Better Days" and one of the best renditions of the overworked standard "My Funny Valentine" as you're likely to hear. On Welcome, Reeves was exploring the jazz/R&B territory she would claim as her own a decade later. "For Every Heart" was much more commercial, but the three cuts chosen here are worthwhile, especially a duet with Jon Lucien, "Separate Vacations."
When she wants to sing jazz, Dianne Reeves has always had the ability to reach the top of her field, but she has long seemed unable to make up her mind between jazz, R&B, world music, and pop. This Blue Note disc fortunately finds her mostly sticking to jazz and in consistently superb form. Reeves' treatments of such numbers as "Afro Blue" (which is particularly memorable), "Love for Sale," "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise," "How High the Moon," and McCoy Tyner's "You Taught My Heart to Sing" all border on the classic.