Dianne Reeves, the preeminent jazz vocalist the New York Times described as, “The only jazz singer with a voice big enough to rival Sarah Vaughan’s,” is about to release a gorgeous album of songs celebrating the different stages of love in a woman’s life. When You Know, coming out on Blue Note Records April 15, showcases Reeves’ alternately honey velvet and soaring voice in her own interpretation of “new” standards from The Temptations to Minnie Ripperton to Shawn Colvin. The four-time Grammy winner, and the only singer to win the vocal category for three consecutive recordings in any singing category, won a whole new legion of fans in recent years with her prominent onscreen role in the film “Good Night, And Good Luck.” Her last Grammy was for this soundtrack.
Reeves inspiration for When You Know came from an unexpected place. “There is a Gustav Klimt painting I had seen at the Belvedere in Vienna of a young woman moving through life. I remember loving the various depictions of the phases of her life from innocence to increasing maturity. In a similar way, this album progresses through songs which celebrate different phases of love, in much the same way our notions of love change as we move through time.” The songs ultimately chose themselves, she said, ranging from her youthful and dreamy interpretation of the Temptations’ “Just My Imagination” to the seasoned perspective of the Cy Coleman/Peggy Lee classic “I’m In Love Again.”
“Dreamy is right,” emphasized Reeves. “It’s that time in high school when you’re looking at that cute guy on the other side of the classroom, lost in the daydreams of a life together.” She adds, “As you grow older, you begin to question what love really is and your perspective takes in the nuances of a more mature love.” The track, “Over The Weekend,” first sung by Mabel Mercer and then Nancy Wilson – the latter encouraged Dianne to record it – reflects the loneliness Reeves has, herself, experienced in a life on the road, while the groove infused “Midnight Sun” taps into the magic of love, Dianne’s voice reminiscent of the best of Ella.
The album concludes with Reeves’ sole original offering, honoring where love for her begins – her 83-year old mother, Vada. “Today Will Be a Good Day,” is a rollicking blues track, delivered with a heap of bounce and boogie. Despite her battle with breast cancer and emphysema, Vada is a sparkplug of life and, says Reeves, “My biggest inspiration. If you don’t call her by 8:30 a.m., you’re not going to catch her. She’s so independent yet so giving–a wonderful example of living in grace.” The philosophy of life that has carried Vada through her health challenges with her zest for living intact is best summed up in her own words: ‘I don’t entertain illness, depression or boredom. I may feel them sometimes, but I don’t entertain them!” The lyrics to “Today Will Be A Good Day” are her mother’s words of wisdom and how she lives her life.
When You Know emerged following a period of intense touring for Reeves. Creatively revitalized during a break at home in Denver, she suddenly announced a desire to get into the studio right away, teaming once again with producer George Duke (Natalie Cole, Anita Baker), Reeves’ cousin and producer of two of her Grammy-winning albums: 2001’s In the Moment and 2002’s The Calling.
The vocal textures and colors Reeves’ employs on this album can be attributed to having performed in an unusual musical context over the past year: two guitars and voice, a setting which enabled her to discover new ways for her voice to both soar and seduce. Guitar masters Russell Malone and Romero Lubambo joined Reeves for the tour and the result was magical. The 25-date European “Strings Attached” tour is still being talked about. In addition to Lubambo and Malone, joining Reeves on When You Know are a cast of familiar faces from past albums, including pianist Billy Childs and saxophonist Steve Wilson as well as new collaborators pianist Geoffrey Keezer and drummer Antonio Sanchez. Veterans of Reeves’ bands who appear include bassists Reuben Rogers and Reginald Veal and drummer Greg Hutchinson.
Vanity Fair has said Dianne Reeves demonstrates, “…terrific jazz stylings” and USA Today called her “The celebrated jazz diva…” but perhaps Essence said it best, when it described, “”Dianne Reeves proves she’s still a premier mistress of jazz…” When You Know, you know.