By Jon Bee for Broadway World
I suppose it’s true you can always find our way back home, especially if home is where the heart is, as they say. For Denver’s own Dianne Reeves making her return to Boettcher Concert Hall, it feels like Dolly Levy has come back to Harmonia Gardens.
Jazz has long been one of my main disciplines in music. As a young musician, I had a plethora of opportunities to sing in top level jazz ensembles. I could only do right by my college jazz professor (Doc Steve Widenhofer, may he Rest in Peace) by attending a concert with such jazz icons as Vince Mendoza and Grammy Award-winning Diane Reeves.
This concert truly felt like coming home again, and yet was so fresh and new. Reeves has a voice I can only describe as a cello. There is a depth to her tone that settles so beautifully in her lower range, but has such control that even in her higher register, the weight to her voice isn’t sacrificed, similar to the way a cello’s velvet vibrancy spans its octaves.
Reeves certainly strayed from your typical jazz standards. She could not be “Bewitched, Bothered, Bewildered” nor was there a “Boy from New York City” to be found – though there was a joke about “The Girl from Ipanema.” Instead, the audience was treated to wonderful renditions of “Social Call,” “In a Sentimental Mood,” and a handful of other tunes on which Reeves shines. Though, I couldn’t help but hope for something a little more nostalgic to my own jazz experiences.
And then – it happened. The 11 o’clock number: “Esperanto.” A song written by the honored maestro of the evening, Vince Mendoza, that I sang with my jazz group years ago at Millikin University. It was my own personal highlight to the evening. It also occurred to me that, of course, Dianne Reeves wouldn’t do your standard jazz repertoire because Dianne Reeves is anything but standard.
Under the baton of Mendoza, the Colorado Symphony showcases an opportunity to adapt to other musical styles. Truly, I was most impressed with their collective ability to venture into the less-structured jazz genre without losing their identity as an accomplished orchestra. Alongside Reeves and the orchestra was a rhythm section of epic proportions consisting of Terreon Gully, drums, Peter Martin, piano, Romero Lubambo, guitar, and Reuben Rodgers, bass. These gentlemen were the perfect complement to Reeves. The proverbial cherries on top.
The Colorado Symphony does such a fine job of bringing dynamic programming to the Denver community. This concert fits nicely into the classical-contemporary fusion mold that they do so well. For Dianne Reeves, I’m sure it feels good to come home again.