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Dianne Reeves at TD James Moody Jazz Festival

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Thursday January 17, 2019

From Jazz Police

The 2018 TD James Moody Jazz Festival
By: Sheila Horne Mason

It isn’t every day that you have two of the greatest voices in jazz on the same bill. So, this concert was a musical feast for jazz lovers. On Thursday, November 8, NJPAC CEO John Schreiber welcomed the crowd, and introduced James Moody’s widow, Linda Moody. Then Schreiber brought bassist Christian McBride (Artistic Advisor of jazz for NJPAC) to the stage, and he in turn introduced exceptional vocalist, Dianne Reeves, noting that out of seven years, she has appeared at least five times at the TD James Moody Jazz Festival. Dianne’s bandmates were pianist Peter Martin, guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist Reginald Veal, and drummer Terreon Gully. After the band riffed for a bit, Dianne came on stage looking splendid in a flowered print dress. She sang an affecting ‘Twelfth of Never,’ where her soaring voice leaped octaves effortlessly. Ms. Reeves had quite an adventure, with airline trouble, getting to New Jersey. In an astonishing improvisation, she sang the story of cancelled flights, an engine fire on her second flight, and finally arriving in New Jersey after a series of mishaps. Not only was this performance musically brilliant, but it was also filled with humor, tension, and excitement. With less than a day to put it together, Dianne’s musical storytelling was nothing short of extraordinary. She spoke about the passing of Roy Hargrove, saying, ‘He was like a living school. He could play, boy could he play! But I really loved to hear him sing.’ She performed ‘September in the Rain’ in tribute to Hargrove and personalized some of the lyrics. It was a sweet dedication.

Reeves did a funky, bluesy scat duet with bassist Reginald Veal, then the entire band chimed in. Dianne turned it into a powerful political statement about unity, moving forward, and being positive and strong. She then discussed a concert she did in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, and all the amazing animals they saw there. Reeves and Romero Lubambo did a gorgeous ‘Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars,’ which she said reminds her of beautiful nights in Africa. Dianne finished her set with her signature singing introduction of her band. No matter how many times you may have heard her do this, it is always a thing of beauty!

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