- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dianne Reeves

When You Know

Blue Note

Jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves returns to the recording scene today with “When You Know,” her first CD of fresh material since 2003’s Grammy-winning “A Little Moonlight.”

As with most Reeves projects, the 10 songs form a collective theme, in this case the many aspects of love. The carefully chosen material (produced by Miss Reeves‘ second cousin, bandleader-composer-keyboardist George Duke, who also performs on the disc) mixes standards with soundtrack offerings. Along with a haunting take on “The Windmills of My Mind,” for example, she resurrects Shawn Colvin’s obscure little tune from the 2001 John Cusack film “Serendipity” for the album’s title track.

A pair of R&B; classics, the Temptations’ “Just My Imagination” and the Minnie Riperton signature “Lovin’ You,” merely serve to solidify the new album’s theme of amour — dreamy infatuation for “Imagination” and the pangs of early passion on “Lovin’ You.” (Miss Reeves does, however, nail Miss Riperton’s nearly impossible high note at the end.)

Fortunately for jazz purists, the songs that follow are worthier showcases of Miss Reeves‘ extraordinary phrasing and unique ability to embrace a lyric. With superb backing that includes guitar masters Russell Malone and Romero Lubambo, bassists Reuben Rogers and Reginald Veal and drummer Greg Hutchinson, Miss Reeves breezes through lush readings (complete with strings) of “Over the Weekend” (a hit for British cabaret star Mabel Mercer and later for Nancy Wilson) and the sultry Lionel Hampton-Sonny Burke-Johnny Mercer chestnut “Midnight Sun.”

Miss Reeves has a grand time with “Social Call,” a modern standard by vocalese originator and master Jon Hendricks. She saves the best for last, however, with “Today Will Be a Good Day,” an upbeat blues ditty that she composed based on an everyday expression from her mom. (Longtime Reeves fans will recall that the words of her grandmother formed the basis of her nostalgic 1987 crossover hit “Better Days.”)

Although Miss Reeves has made better albums than “When You Know,” the acclaimed chanteuse is still at the peak of her vocal powers here and manages to rise above her uneven material.

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