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A Little Moonlight

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Album Review

With the meteoric success of Norah Jones' debut in the early 2000s, the message was clear: there's a real hunger for straightforward tunes with minimal froufrou. Jones' producer, Arif Mardin, has assembled another likely hit with A Little Moonlight, a collection of appealing standards. Empathically supported by Dianne Reeves' working trio, every track showcases her exceptionally rich and lovely instrument. Although longterm fans may consider her a bit subdued, her soulfulness is very much in evidence, and her voice, as always, goes down like mulled wine. There are samples of her trademark whimsical scatting, especially on the charming opener, "Loads of Love," "I'm All Smiles," and the grin-inducing "What a Little Moonlight Can Do." "I'm All Smiles" features a fine solo by the excellent pianist Peter Martin, who, like Ruben Rogers and Gregory Hutchinson, is terrific throughout. Peaks include two delicious duos with guest Romero Lubambo, the elegant Brazilian guitarist who's been on her last four albums: the airy "I Concentrate on You" and the yearning "Darn That Dream." Reeves' inspired pairing with Nicholas Payton on "You Go to My Head" has the intimate feel of closing time at a jazz club: the patrons are gone, the chairs are stacked on the tables, but the musicians still have something urgent and deeply personal to say. Even when the trio joins in, the after-hours atmosphere endures, with Payton scrolling around Reeves' lines and taking a magnificently misty solo. In "We'll Be Together Again," Reeves evokes the ghost of Sarah Vaughan — another purely musical singer gifted with a flexible, velvety voice and soulful, natural phrasing. Double Grammy-winner Reeves had long been a genre-buster, so this straight-ahead album is a precedent for her; accessible and thoroughly enjoyable, it will undoubtedly gain her a whole new audience, while staying true to the banner of jazz. Recommended.


Born: October 23, 1956 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Dianne Reeves has been one of the top singers in jazz ever since the late '80s. A logical successor to Dinah Washington and Carmen McRae (although even she can't reach the impossible heights of Ella and Sarah Vaughan), Reeves is a superior interpreter of lyrics and a skilled scat singer. She was a talented vocalist with an attractive voice even as a teenager when she sang and recorded with her high school band. She was encouraged by Clark Terry, who had her perform with him while she was a college...
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A Little Moonlight, Dianne Reeves
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