Dianne Reeves: Christmas Time Is Here

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Wednesday November 29, 2017

From The Mercury

Jazz legend Dianne Reeves has surprises in store for SFJazz run
By: Andrew Gilbert

Every performance by jazz singer Dianne Reeves is a glorious celebration, but her holiday concerts come freighted with an extra dose of emotion.

Growing up in a creatively charged Colorado family, she recalls Christmas as a musical outpouring with “people playing instruments, and playing great records,” Reeves said in a recent phone conversation from her home in Denver. “But more than anything, the thing that inspires me about the holidays was all of us being together and hearing the stories from my elders about their childhood.”

Reeves captured some of that holiday warmth on her 2004 album “Christmas Time Is Here” (Blue Note), which she’ll be drawing on for her Nov. 30-Dec. 3 run at SFJazz’s Miner Auditorium. In the tradition of Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Tormé, whose standard “The Christmas Song” is part of her repertoire, Reeves imbues traditional songs (“Carol of the Bells”), jazz ballads (“A Child Is Born”), and pop hits (“I’ll Be Home for Christmas”) with an irresistible sense of swing.

She connects directly with her own childhood via the album’s title track, Vince Guaraldi’s theme for “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” the classic 1965 animated special. “Everybody knew the song from that,” Reeves said. “I love the fact that a jazz musician was such an important part of those ‘Peanuts’ specials.”

While Reeves has won numerous awards for her recordings, no album has fully captured her embracing power as a performer. With her sumptuous, crushed-velvet voice, she is one of jazz’s most formidable musicians, and she surrounds herself with similarly gifted players.

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