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Concert Review: “Strings Attached” by Dianne Reeves, Romero Lubambo, and Russell Malone at Disney Hall

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Dianne Reeves is certainly one of the best, if not the best, jazz vocalist in the world. Three consecutive Grammys for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, and her appointment as the First Creative Chair for Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, attest to her prowess in the field. On the evening of May 20 she gave a dynamic, dare I say fabulous performance at Disney Hall. She was accompanied by Russell Malone, one of the best jazz guitarists in the world, and by Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo who has been described as “the best practitioner of his craft in the world today — the guitarist’s facility, creativity, and energy are in a class all their own.” The evening was, in short, spectacular.

What made the concert so special is the way the guitarists who accompanied Ms. Reeves were totally different from each other. Sometimes they played separately and sometimes together. Ms. Reeves responded to each in kind. She invited us into her “sandbox” to play because that’s how she experiences performing with these two extraordinary artists. Some of the highlights of the concert were a sultry “One for my Baby” from her Grammy Award-winning soundtrack to Good Night, and Good Luck, a poignant “Love for Sale,” and a touching “I’m in Love Again.”

Ms. Reeves was in the mood to sing about love because a lot of love was present among the performers. Ms. Reeves is known for her smooth velvety style. She is as well known for her numerous records as her concerts. Her subject matter is usual love whether new found, lost, or yearning for love. She sings from the heart and knows how to embrace her words. She is also a remarkable improviser and scat singer much in the style of Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughn.

With just the accompaniment of the guitars you feel like she is singing just for you. Soon she will be featured in a film about the all-too-brief life of the remarkable Billy Strayhorn. The evening was appropriately called “Strings Attached” and featured songs from many of her records as well as solo guitar selections by her companions. The concert was held at Disney Hall on May 20.

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