DIANNE REEVES: ‘When You Know’ (Label: Blue Note)

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DIANNE REEVES: 'When You Know'

Following a couple of small label LPs in the early ’80s, Detroit-born Dianne Reeves signed to the legendary jazz label, Blue Note, in 1987, where she’s remained ever since (save a one-off Grammy-winning soundtrack outing on Concord for the George Clooney-directed 2005 movie ‘Good Night And Good Luck’). Four years after her last Blue Note album, 2004’s ‘Christmas Time Is Here,’ this four-times-Grammy-winner returns with a soul-infused set produced by her cousin, keyboard maestro, George Duke. Listeners who liked Reeves’ earlier forays into soul-jazz – exemplified by her Blue Note debut, ‘Better Days,’ and 1990’s ‘Never Too Far,’ both helmed by Duke – will find much to savour on this, her twenty first long player. The set opens with a delightfully dreamy reading of The Temptations’ ballad, ‘Just My Imagination,’ and also includes a pleasant reworking of Minnie Riperton’s Stevie Wonder-scribed classic ‘Lovin’ You’ – the original, complete with background bird noises, was too twee and saccharine for my taste but here, Reeves reduces the song’s sugar content to a level where its sweetness is no longer cloying. Duke’s sympathetic production really brings out the translucent beauty in Reeves’ voice – especially on the gentle ‘I’m In Love Again,’ where she has soft, jazzy guitar accompaniment. Her rendition of ‘Midnight Sun’ is also memorable, with Duke and his cohorts – including Russell Malone on guitar – providing a silkily syncopated rhythmic undertow that has a smooth soul feel. The album’s closer, ‘Today Will Be A Good Day,’ is a striking Reeves original that is remarkable because it’s acutely different from the previous tracks on the album: it’s a raw, aisle-shaking, gospel-blues with a jaunty ’50s-style R&B beat. It ends the CD on a euphoric highpoint largely because the sobriety and sophistication of the other tracks is replaced by a playful earthiness that Reeves rarely reveals on record. A fine album from a phenomenal talent.
(CW) 4/5