Picks and Pans Review: Dianne Reeves

updated 11/16/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/16/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

Dianne Reeves

Here's how music can be so wonderful: Let's say the scene is a traffic jam on one of those roads that seem to have been designed by a team of the world's worst highway engineers—the Hollywood Freeway, say, or the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago or Route 4 in northern New Jersey. The only thing moving faster than 1.8 mph is the buildup of tension and hostility. Then, over a randomly chosen radio station, comes a track from this record, a cool but hardly dispassionate set of jazz vocals by a woman whose style should delight fans of Sade or Anita Baker or Sarah Vaughan or...It's a splendid style, full of adventuresome improvisation. Reeves, 31, has sung backup with such people as Sergio Mendes and Harry Belafonte—not a resume that would seem to guarantee her a spot in the Jazz Hall of Fame. But this is a woman who is not afraid to take musical risks and one who, to judge from this debut album, rarely loses a gamble. The record includes such standards as I've Got It Bad and That Ain't Good, which Reeves sings over Freddie Hubbard's flügelhorn commentary, such discoveries as Eddie delBarrio's I'm O.K., complemented by delBarrio's piano, and such originals as Reeves's and Tony Lorrich's Better Days. This is quiet, meditative jazz, just the thing for a stormy fall evening-or to defuse those thoughts of mounting a 152mm cannon on the hood of old Betsy. (Blue Note)

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