Vocalsist Dianne ReevesThe jazz people who attend the Bank of America Paradise Jazz Series at Orchestra Hall in Detroit, Mi are normally hard on jazz vocalists. In January, vocalist Sophie Milman shared a double-bill with saxophonist Phil Woods. Dianne, it was ugly. Not that Milman gave a bad performance. Her voice was lovely, but she lacked stagecraft. The Orchestra Hall jazz crowd likes jazz vocalists to be personable and sassy.
Milman was stiff as new work boots. She just stood at the microphone. The audience was aloof, which I’m sure hurt Milman’s feelings. Anyway, that wasn’t the first time I witnessed the audience at Orchestra Hall give a vocalist the cold shoulder. I was confident the audience would welcome you. You’re a native Detroiter, and you know how to work a crowd. I watched you do it last year at the Detroit International Jazz Festival.
That was the first time I heard you live. I was infatuated with the range and power of you voice. You’re humorous. You could’ve been a successful comic. Your timing was sharp and your punch lines tickled the audience. The Dianne Reeves I experienced at the jazz festival was different from the Dianne Reeves I heard Thursday evening.
I hated the first set. You squandered time reminiscing. Your yapping about your experience with actor George Clooney was damn near pornographic and inappropriate. People paid good money to hear you sing. You became so worked up salivating about Clooney I thought you’re going to have an orgasm. You talked too much. By the third song, I wanted to shout: “Dianne, stop with the stories and just sing”! I kept my composure.
You seemed jetlagged. I you said the band toured South Africa. I figured touring had worn you out. Was that why you performed three songs during the first set sitting on a stool? You’re more energetic after the intermission. Did you realize you shortchanged the audience the first set, and you wanted give them a better performance? When you performed the gospel tinged song, you gyrated and belted out the lyrics as if you caught the Holy Ghost. That number was the highlight of both sets
Your scatting on “Afro Blue” would’ve made--if they’re still living--Sarah Vaughn, and Ella Fitzgerald envious. Your rendition of the Temptation’s classic “ Just My Imagination” rivaled the original, and the Temptation Walk you did at the end was a nice touch. The first set was dull. The second set was lively and eclectic, and you transformed into the Dianne Reeves who infatuated me last summer.