Beautiful Life (Concord, 2014)
The most recent work by Dianne Reeves in the U.S. five years. One of the most prominent female voices of jazz reappears with a turn towards pop music and soul rather than jazz. “Beautiful Life” is a review of well-known songs that try to become more relevant with the voice of Reeves and their new arrangements . It is better to use a known piece than an unknown one. The temptation of making covers is popular with producers. This time, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington was the producer in charge.
Twelve pieces are showcased together with special guests including Esperanza Spalding, Robert Glasper, Gregory Porter, George Duke and Sean Jones, among others. Guests don’t take, in most cases , major roles. The repertoire is based on soft musical treatment for the pieces. Serene ballads, soaked in soul in some cases. The music should have been sprinkled with more energy and strength. Or maybe the idea was that Reeves’ portentous voice would take over everything.
Three songs stand out above all . “Waiting in Vain ” (Bob Marley) feeds on Reeve’s tasty vocal vitality. Brazilian guitarist Lumbambo Romero is responsible for the wonderful arrangement. Another piece that flies high is “Tango ” with Raul Midon’s mouth trumpet. The piece walks slowly with the nuanced suspense of Buenos Aires tango and ends with house music in an unexpected twist.
Another highlight and not so well known in pop and rock confines is “32 flavors” by the unmatched Ani Difranco, which is one of those beautiful songs that wins with the soul essence im printed here . A piece by Marvin Gaye, however, should have been filled with more vigor. And so other parts continue without any salt to shake them.
“Beautiful Life” is another attempt by a polished singer who wants to broaden her scope