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Kenny Barron

This CD could have been titled Finally! Dianne Reeves has long had the potential to be the top female jazz singer, but so many of her previous recordings were erratic as she skipped back and forth between idioms without committing herself. However, after years of flirting with jazz and being seemingly undecided whether she would rather be a pop star, she at last came out with a full jazz album in 1996, and it is a gem. The supporting cast on the ten selections (which feature different personnel on each cut) is remarkable and everyone gets a chance to play: trumpeters Clark Terry and Harry "Sweets" Edison, altoists Phil Woods and Bobby Watson, tenorman James Moody, trombonist Al Grey, harmonica great Toots Thielemans (on "Besame Mucho"), pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Rodney Whitaker, and drummer Herlin Riley. In addition, Joe Williams shares the vocal spotlight on "Let Me Love You" and a touching version of "Tenderly," Germaine Bazzle sings along with Reeves on "Side by Side," and a rendition of Charlie Ventura's "Ha!" has a vocal group consisting of Reeves, Bazzle, Terry, Moody, and the young Kimberley Longstreth. Other highlights include Nat Adderley's "Old Country," "Some Other Spring," and "Cherokee." Despite the heavy "competition," the leader emerges as the star of the set due to her beautiful voice and highly expressive singing. This highly recommended CD is the Dianne Reeves release to get. ~ Scott Yanow