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Dianne Reeves, "Lyrics Whisperer"

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Wednesday November 27, 2013

From Jazz Police

2013 Exit O International Jazz Festival
By: Bridget Aarwine

The Exit 0 International Jazz Festival, now in its second year, relied on community involvement this past weekend (November 8-10, 2013) as venues all across town and volunteers from the area opened up and served in the name of jazz. Nine venues, one hundred plus musicians, and countless volunteers helped make the festival formerly known as the Cape May Jazz Festival a great success. Artists such as Aaron Diehl, Eddie Palmieri, Bruce Barth & Gary Bartz, Frederic Yonnet, Robin McKelle and the Flytones, and Frank Bey welcomed the festival crowd to Cape May, NJ with performances that were so diverse, yet so full of verve and richness, that audiences seemed conflicted about leaving one show to go to another. But even with all of the magical energy the other performers offered, the belle of the Exit 0 ball was undisputedly Ms. Dianne Reeves.

Talented female jazz vocalists are easy to come by. Gretchen Parlato, Diana Krall, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nnenna Freelon, Cecile McLorin Salvant— the jazz world is lucky to have them all. But no one, and I do mean no one, is singing or creating on the level of Ms. Reeves. Considering the degree of talent out there on the female jazz vocalists’ front, that’s saying a lot.

The four-time Grammy Award winner, who performed alongside Peter Martin (piano), Robert Hurst (bass), Terreon Gully (drums), and Romero Lubambo (guitar), began her set with an instrumental performance of “Summertime” (with exceptionally beautiful solos performed by Hurst and Lubambo). When she finally made her way to the stage, Reeves shimmered across the stage in a shiny gold top as if she’d been touched by King Midas himself, and the audience seemed genuinely happy to see her. By the end of her first song, however, something else happened. Happiness blossomed into excitement and excitement gave way to awe, and when the awe erupted, the room filled with a sweet release that was so beautiful, not even the angel Gabriel could recreate it.

She sang to give the songs a vehicle to soar. Not because she wanted to, but because it’s the very thing she was put on Earth to do. She’s a lyrics whisperer, communicating words and feelings with an ease that belied her more conservative posture. She understood exactly what she was singing and she didn’t rely on theatrics or over-emoting to prove it. She just stood there, flat-footed and open-hearted, and sang.

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