Dianne Reeves – The Calling

The CallingThe Calling
Dianne Reeves
(Blue Note – 2001)
by Carmen Miller

“I’d never heard a voice like that, that could soar, that was so rich and deep and beautiful, that sang all over the place, It was like magic, to be able to phrase and improvise like that. I thought, `You mean there are those kinds of possibilities?’ So in the very beginning of my vocal development, I viewed her as my vocal guide and inspiration. “– Dianne Reeves on Sarah Vaughan

After years of honing her skills and establishing her own voice in the jazz world, Dianne Reeves has released an album celebrating Sarah Vaughn, the esteemed jazz vocalist who inspired her to seriously pursue the art of singing. “Sarah opened the door,” says Reeves. The CD contains nine covers of Vaughan recordings and the original, “I Remember Sarah,” co-written by Billy Childs. Reeves enlisted such colleagues as George Duke (who produced the disc), Billy Childs (who arranged most of the tunes and played piano on three tracks), bassist Reginald Veal, drummer Greg Hutchinson and percussionist Munyungo Jackson. Guests include pianist Mulgrew Miller, saxophonist Steve Wilson, guitarists Russell Malone and Romero Lubambo and trumpeter Clark Terry.

To create the rich, lush sound Dianne recorded live in the studio with a 42-piece orchestra composed of L.A.’s top studio musicians. This use of a live orchestra makes a difference that is immediately apparent on the opening “Lullaby of Birdland,” which she delivers with a lively scat that wafts over the orchestral swirl and swing. The richness continues with “Send in the Clowns” and a samba-tinged interpretation of Kurt Weill’s “Speak Low.” “Obsession” is delivered with intensity, “It’s a tribute to the range and coloring of Sarah’s voice” Reeves says. Other covers include “Key Largo” and two Gershwin tunes: “Fascinating Rhythm” and a version of “Embraceable You” which is graced by a fine Russell Malone guitar solo.

The sole original on the CD, “I Remember Sarah” is an upbeat, blues tune featuring the singer’s sassy wordless vocalise and Mulgrew Miller’s bluesy piano solo. “We wanted to celebrate Sarah’s spontaneity,” Reeves says. “Billy and I worked on this while the orchestra was on break. The melody and the lyric of the song were done freestyle. The orchestra came in later and played over what we had done spontaneously.” The CD closes with Milton Nascimento’s beautifully composed vocalise “A Chamada,” which Reeves offers as a dreamy, enchanting finale. Dianne delivers the entire CD with a range of emotion and intensity that would make Sarah proud.