DIANNE REEVES, Sheraton City Center, Monday
She is billed as perhaps the finest female jazz vocalist of a generation but entertainment writers can get carried away and pass out crowns or titles a little too easily. In Dianne Reeves' case however, the performance Monday night met every demand of the billing. With her five-octave voice she scaled the musical peaks like a goat and excavated the depths like a grave digger.
Reeves, from "just over the hill" (Denver), sings with the clarity of crystal and the sharpness of steel and when called for her voice is as ethereal as smoke. After a stint in Europe just last week, she seemed delighted to have her regular band around her and dressed in a white pantsuit with turquoise accessories, along with the warm temperatures, it seemed she brought spring, finally, to Salt Lake City.
Reeves called herself a storyteller, and it isn't a boast or a figurative expression, it's a fact of her performance that helps her songs resonate. Her signature penned song, "It's Going To Be A Great Day," is a great album-tune with clever musicianship, but hearing Reeves explain that it is a ode to her 83-year-old mother and the fact that "if you don't catch her by 8:30 you aren't gonna catch her," made it all the more a celebration of the determination to live happily.
Behind Reeves, the rhythm section gave quality performances from drummer Gregory Hutchinson and bassist Reuben Rogers. Each was featured on a song and acquitted himself well. Pianist Peter Martin had a little more featured time, but it was Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo who grabbed the most spotlight. He and Reeves played off each other like old friends and true jazz artists eventually bringing in the rest of the group with "Our Love Is Here To Stay."
The best moment of the night, in fact the best of the GAM Foundation's jazz season, was Reeves a capella with "If I Can Help Somebody." It was a sacred moment, and the capacity crowd was stone silent, almost holding its breath, a transcendent moment in an outstanding performance.
Near the end of the show the group then found extra depth in popular music with the likes of "Just My Imagination," and "When You Know."