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June 2008

Dianne Reeves
When You Know
Blue Note Records

It’s a credit to Dianne Reeves that her latest is no better than such recent accomplishments as her 2001 tribute to Sarah Vaughan, 2003’s A Little Moonlight, or her lush contributions to the Good Night, and Good Luck soundtrack. When an artist consistently, unerringly earns top marks, another “A” is as much to be expected as praised. Here the fundamental difference is the four-time Grammy winner’s decision, honed on the road over the past year, to record with two guitarists, Russell Malone and Romero Lubambo, augmented by familiar names from past albums: pianist Billy Childs, saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassists Reuben Rogers and Reginald Veal and drummer Greg Hutchison. (Drummer Antonio Sanchez and pianist Geoffrey Keezer are newcomers to the Reeves fold.)

Sounding, as always, like a sun-dappled glacier leisurely, meanderingly melting its way down a Colorado mountainside, Reeves shapes another eclectic play list, dipping into the Motown songbook for a cream-filled “Just My Imagination,” further softening the gentle caress of Minnie Ripperton’s “Lovin’ You” and navigating the shadowy tunnels of Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Michel Legrand’s “Windmills of Your Mind.” There are respectful nods to Peggy Lee (“I’m in Love Again”), Johnny Mercer (“Midnight Sun”) and Jobim (“Once I Loved”).

But best among the 10 superlative tracks are two relative obscurities—“Over the Weekend,” a sly tale earlier told by Nancy Wilson (who urged Reeves to cover it) of a sexually fulfilling sojourn that brightens an otherwise dull life, and the title track, a sweet homage to romantic contentment first introduced by Shawn Colvin in the film Serendipity—and one Reeves original, the album-closing “Today Will Be a Good Day.” In her spoken introduction to “Good Day,” Reeves notes that it was written in honor of her octogenarian mother who, though seriously ill, remains inspiringly vital and unflaggingly optimistic. Perhaps best described as a rockabilly spiritual, it also fully and accurately captures the quintessence of Reeves herself: warm, openhearted, genuine and vibrantly life-affirming.

Originally published in June 2008
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