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Dianne Reeves - A Singer Of Fortitude 07/07/2003

by Eric Montfort

Diane Reeves is slowly but surely taking over where the late and great Sarah Vaughan and Betty Carter have left. Essentially a product of the past decade, Dianne Reeves has already released several superb Blue Note albums that not only exhibited her expansive border-crossing musical interests but also established her as an artist intent on developing her voice.

Dianne Reeves is one of the main attractions at the forthcoming Malta Jazz Festival. Organised by The Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, it be held between July 18 and 20 at Ta' Liesse, Valletta. The Malta Jazz Festival is sponsored by Cisk Export Premium Lager and Vodafone Malta Limited and supported by Le Meridien Phoenicia and the American Center. The festival nights start at 8.00pm.

"I learned from Sarah and Betty Carter that you have to have your own approach, your own concept. Even though I never emulated her, Sarah was there at the beginning for me, but I moved on and was influenced by a range of other people over the years. But now I feel so very confident in my own voice that I can fully celebrate Sarah's inspiration and spirit." Following her Grammy-winning orchestral album The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan, jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves wished to return to a simpler, all-acoustic setting.

So in December 2002, Reeves entered Right Track studios in New York City with legendary producer Arif Mardin (Aretha Franklin, Norah Jones) to record A Little Moonlight, an intimate collection of ten tunes featuring her touring trio: pianist Peter Martin, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Greg Hutchinson.

"Most of the songs are about the moment you're ready to fall in love, and the record features one of my loves, my trio-up-close and personal," says Reeves. "I've had great groups over the years, but there is really something special playing with Peter, Reuben and Greg. We've worked together for so long that sometimes all it takes is a look to make the music come alive-and this record captures the magic between us."

Diane Reeves excels in her interpretation of classics such as the upbeat and fun "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" and a slow and sweet rendition of "Skylark" - to lesser known such as the whimsical Richard Rogers tune "Loads of Love." It is indeed significant that such an experienced world-class veteran producer like Arif Mardin lately described Reeves, as "an artiste who can deliver a simmering effect." He added that "at times, she is like a diver springing off the board-jumping and hanging in the air, then rising even further while achieving one more perfectly executed twist."

Last year was Reeves' most memorable. She garnered many honours and plaudits, notably a Grammy Award for The Calling. She performed at the closing ceremony of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City; she sang on the season finale of HBO's hit series 'Sex and the City' and received the Ella Fitzgerald Award at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. Reeves was also appointed for presiding over the Creative Chair for Jazz at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, for which Reeves oversees the scheduling of jazz programming at both the Hollywood Bowl and Walt Disney Concert Hall. Besides, she has released a career-spanning compilation CD on Blue Note, The Best of Dianne Reeves.

Just over a decade ago, no one, perhaps not even Reeves herself would have thought she would be so big. However, this Detroit native, who is now 47, has managed to adapt her attractive voice, experience and versatility to deliver great and fine songs. She seems to be more focused than ever, having settled as a committed jazz singer, after many years of recording cross-genre albums. Yet, she remains unencumbered by the shackles of categorisation

"The opening concert of the 13th Malta Jazz Festival will be a wonderful opportunity to see and hear an accomplished singer like Dianne Reeves," said Pierre Stafrace, Farsons Marketing Manager. "Farsons is proud to be extending its sponsorship through Cisk Export - a premium lager for a premium festival!"

"Vodafone is pleased to be associated with the Malta Jazz Festival and to be able to provide music lovers the many forms of jazz expression," said Daphne Testa, Vodafone Marketing Communications Executive.

Further information may be obtained from the website: www.maltajazzfest.com.

Tickets are on sale from The Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, tel 21 245 168, and Vodafone Retail Outlets in B'Kara, Gozo, Hamrun, Naxxar, Paola, Sliema, Valletta and from Planet Vodafone at Marsa. Tickets can also be purchased from Exotique Complex (Sliema), D'Amato (Sliema and Valletta), Knight Music (Hamrun), Ta' Geraldu Kiosk and t-Teatru Manoel (Valletta), and Memories (Bugibba).