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Heineken Jazzaldia-San Sebastian (Part 2)

Return to Forever

Preeminent vocalists Dianne Reeves and Diana Krall were featured nearly in succession on the same night (albeit in different venues), a deft move on the part of the programmers that allowed for examination of two contrasting but effective vocal-jazz schools.

To be sure, Reeves is one of jazz’s must-experience live shows. Often as stunning as her songs are the between-song banter and band introductions, which she unfurls as gorgeous bits of melody. At San Sebastian her set included a healthy cross-section of career achievements, among them R&B and pop tunes off the very fine When You Know as well as her Grammy-winning standards work from the film Good Night, and Good Luck. Surprisingly, what most revealed her talents was a cover of the Temptations hit “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me).” Where a lesser singer with Reeves’ athletic vocal instrument might have overdressed such a tune with melisma and vibrato, Reeves’ vocal was controlled and crystalline. (Her range too is famously expansive, though she knows precisely when to exploit it and when to rein it in.) Her equally self-aware accompaniment-guitarist Peter Sprague, pianist Peter Martin, bassist James Genus and drummer Kendrick Scott-was so refined as to remind Reeves diehards of the large chunk of her discography marred by studio excesses. (Reeves also thrilled as a surprise guest with Bobby McFerrin, who “conducted” San Sebastian’s Orfeón Donostiarra choir but mostly cracked them up.)

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