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Review: Scat-singing Dianne Reeves well worth the wait

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Raw emotion: Dianne Reeves

Raw emotion: Dianne Reeves

Raw emotion: Dianne Reeves

Dianne Reeves' debut Belfast appearance was ideal Sunday night fare - imperiously performed and beautifully sung jazz with plenty of crossover appeal.

It's a surprise that Reeves' long career had not brought her here before. A four-time Grammy winner, her career spans nearly 40 years, with 20 albums, constant touring and an appearance in the George Clooney movie Good Night, And Good Luck. Oh, and in 2011 she sang for Obama at the White House. In short, she has seen and done it all.

Oddly enough, last night the audience were made to wait for her appearance, as once her four piece band arrived on stage they embarked on a lengthy instrumental jazz-funk jam, with generous solos for each member and plenty of improvisation.

The slightly off-kilter start to the show was continued when Reeves opened with her cover of Fleetwood Mac's Dreams. Unlike some of her other covers, the song - iconic as it is - doesn't really lend itself to a jazz interpretation, nor does it particularly suit her voice. It was only once she began to scat-sing that she really made the song her own.

From there, however, things picked up considerably. An early highlight was Stormy Weather, from this year's Beautiful Life album.

Reeves sang seated, head bowed and eyes closed, immersed in its tale of heartbreak. The backing from the band was suitably delicate and Reeves' singing full of raw emotion.

Coming immediately after the fevered end of Dreams, it displayed the wonderful character of her singing and her astonishing vocal range perfectly.

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Further covers fared well, particularly versions of Frank Sinatra's One For My Baby and Bob Marley's Waiting In Vain, which ended in Reeves' best scat of the night.

She insists in interviews that she is more than a jazz singer, and her willingness to interpret classics from the rock and pop canon - and to inject them with plenty of soul, never mind jazz tropes - confirms that to be true.

And that approach carries through to so many of her own songs - Satiated a soulful highlight.

All in all, a fine evening of music from five consummate professionals. Dianne Reeves will be welcomed back.

Three stars


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