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Grammy-winner Dianne Reeves sang an excellent and varied collection of hits when she stopped in Santa Barbara.

Paul Wellman

Grammy-winner Dianne Reeves sang an excellent and varied collection of hits when she stopped in Santa Barbara.


Dianne Reeves

At the Lobero Theatre, Thursday, October 18.


It was obvious from the outset that the Dianne Reeves edition of Lobero Live would be a special one. Reeves had not played the Lobero recently, and it is a perfect venue for jazz. In addition, the Santa Barbara stop on her current extended tour was the only chance to hear Reeves with both her marvelous pair of guitarists (Romero Lubambo and Russell Malone), and a full rhythm section (which included Reginald Veal on bass and Gregory Hutchinson on drums). With multiple Grammys on her mantelpiece, and a new sense of what’s possible stemming from her appearance in George Clooney’s film, Good Night and Good Luck, Reeves today is nothing less than electrifying. Her voice is full, rich, and intensely bright at just the right moments, and the ease with which she improvises gorgeous melodies is breathtaking.

To complement her vocal perfection was Reeves’s taste in material. The Harold Arlen classic “One for My Baby” was a hit for her when it was featured over the credits of Goodnight, and it was even better here-sinuous, sexy, and blue in an utterly metropolitan idiom. Drawn out, 48 bar songs like Arlen’s allow Reeves to suspend and evolve a complex melody into something sly and captivating.

Yet this showstopper was only a small piece of a much larger whole. There was a magnificent Brazilian duet with Lubambo at the beginning of the second set, and a couple of great pop covers-“Loving You” and “Just My Imagination.” For “Loving You,” Reeves coyly referred to singing the whole song “except for that one part,” meaning a section on the original recording that Minnie Ripperton sang in her inimitable “whistle register.” Reeves may not have hit those crazy high notes, but she certainly made the song her own, demonstrating that there’s no one who can touch her in pop or jazz today when it comes to soulful scat singing. Take to the road and visit far-off places if you must, Dianne, but come back soon. Because as you sang on Thursday, “Our love is here to stay.”

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