It's great to see the National Concert Hall broadening it's programming to include more international Jazz acts. In the last few months we've seen Keith Jarret, Kurt Elling, Brandford Marsallis and now Dianne Reeves.
I was excited to see that Dianne Reeves was performing with her small combo. Kurt Elling at his recent performance was accompanied by the RTE orchestra but truthfully I would have much rather seen him in a small combo setting.
Two pop tunes in the opening set were particular gems, a cover of fleetwood Mac's Dreams and a bluesy One for My Baby which began with solo bass from Reginald Veal and built a satisfying arc of intensity, it also really gave Reeves a chance to do some technical acrobatics, including showing off her incredible whistle register.
The second half began with a sweet duo with Romero Lubambo on acoustic guitar. Reeves endearingly sang her interludes, telling stories about walking around Dublin and how she met her band. Her phrasing and pitching is so impeccable during these sung trains-of-thought that she makes singing a conversation seem easy and natural.
The Nu Soul cover in the second half was a high point, in particular the backing vocals from Reginald Veal and Terreon Gully. I particularly liked when Reeves soloed over the backing vocals, I only wish there's been more of it.
A cover of Waiting in vain began very promisingly but I couldn't stand the modulation up a step after each chorus. It sounded like a condescending cliché, a Westlife move decided on by a producer with an eye on radio play. Reeves is an incredible singer and soloist, I feel she could have done so much more with the tune if the arrangement was left open to allow it to grow organically through improvisation and band interaction rather than relying on such a predictable trick.