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High Fidelity


When You Know (2008)

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Dianne Reeves has deservedly been hoisted on high as one of the top five jazz voices in the decade of the 2000s. Her four Grammy Awards and her music from the movie soundtrack Good Night, and Good Luck solidified Reeves' upper-echelon placement. When You Know showcases material going off into the shallow end of the pool, away from legitimate jazz, and covering languid and lush pop songs. George Duke, who has over-produced many a recording in his time, is not quite in the realm of Tommy LiPuma or Creed Taylor, but he has done more than his share to give Reeves an orchestrated backdrop to sing songs she likes. While it's good that the setting is acoustic, thanks to a string quartet and the guitar of Romero Lubambo, it seems the vocalist could do these tunes just as well without them. Then again, Reeves, who displays a picture-perfect instrument, has more often than not straddled the commercial line, and has freely crossed over it. This should not be much of a surprise to anyone. Her most impressive straight jazz cover, "Social Call" sports a second-chorus extrapolated lyric over the Wes Montgomery-styled electric guitar of Russell Malone. There's nothing phony or pretentious about this one. "Windmills of Your Mind" has an interesting modal arrangement within a waltz framework. "Once I Loved" is done nicely, but as in the case of the remainder of the other selections, lacks energy and originality. A light funk version of "Midnight Sun" does not compare favorably to Sarah Vaughan's classic version, and Minnie Riperton's "Lovin' You" should be left alone except for those who wish to sleep and snooze to it. Lubambo is the shining light of the session, heard on nine tracks in his own inimitable, passionate, classy manner. Most indulgent is "Today Will Be a Good Day," a rock shuffle with Malone's bluesy R&B guitar resembling something the Stray Cats might have done in the '80s. A disappointing project, it's a lazy, trite repeat of worn-out material as opposed to Reeves creating pathways for new ways of expression or reinventing great standards. ~ Michael G. Nastos