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April 1997

Dianne Reeves
The Grand Encounter
Blue Note Records

When riveting Dianne Reeves assembles three generations of colleagues, the result is more than grand, it's grandiose. The music is deep-rooted jazz, swung by such greats as trumpeters Harry "Sweets" Edison and Clark Terry, trombonist Al Grey, reedsmen James Moody, Phil Woods and Bobby Watson, with Toots Thielemans on harmonica and a rhythm section of pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Herln Riley.

Dianne Reeves is a dazzler on her own; with this aggregation, she's superlative. Don't be put off by the opening track, a reflective saga of "Old Country" by Nat Adderly, because the album picks up immediately with a raring reading of "Cherokee," followed by Toots on "Besame Mucho" and wonderful duets with Joe Williams on "Tenderly" and New Orleans' favorite Germaine Bazzle on "Side by Side" and "Ha!"

The candid photos at the studio are a plus, but a minus grade is earned by fine-print white-on-black musicians' listings.

Originally published in April 1997
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