Dianne Reeves at London Jazz Festival

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Thursday November 21, 2013


Majestic diva Reeves was at her expansive best in a performance of typical warmth and power

A glance at the photos in this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival concert programme suggests that some of its artists are past their prime. Not so the majestic Dianne Reeves, however. A diva in the true sense of the word, she was at her expansive best last night, thrilling an appreciative audience with a performance of typical warmth and power.

Following a snappy instrumental by her excellent band, featuring pianist Peter Martin and impressive new guitarist Peter Sprague, she swept onstage with a dazzling smile and clicked into defrost mode. ‘Let’s make this hall like a living room,’ she said. ‘I just wanna have some fun.’

Her first batch of songs, though, were not so much fun-filled as tragic. Mostly taken from her current album, Beautiful Life, such titles as I’m Not Going to Wait in Vain (for Your Love), I’m Better Now (Without You) and an updated version of Stormy Weather suggested that nobody is writing happy songs any more.

But Reeves rallied with a bouncy blues, Gonna Be a Good Day, and a soaring wordless mambo of Latin-American hits learned in childhood without understanding Spanish. That left time to name-check Birmingham’s Laura Mvula ‘” ‘My favourite singer, and I think she’s here tonight’ ‘” and to back-introduce her band. Nobody, incidentally, does this better than Dianne ‘” in glorious song.

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