Marvin 'Smitty' Smith
Dianne Reeves represents a multitude of styles and approaches, ranging from pop to R&B to straight jazz. The Best of Dianne Reeves provides the listener with a generous collection that emphasizes these opposites. "Better Days" from Dianne Reeves, along with "You Taught My Heart to Sing" and the title cut from I Remember, are light and pretty, emphasizing her ability as a ballad singer. Much more interesting are "Endangered Species" and "Old Souls" from Art & Survival. Backed by infectious rhythms, textured arrangements, and heavy grooves, Reeves unleashes her dynamic vocals bolstered by chants, outbursts, and hymns. Two cuts allow the listener to compare Reeves to other notable singers. "River" from In the Moment offers a soulful, quiet take on Joni Mitchell's classic, while "Lullaby of Birdland," complete with big band backing, succeeds in offering a likable rendition of a Sarah Vaughan favorite, though it lacks the pizzazz that made the earlier version so vibrant. Reeves' performance of "Misty" receives its first U.S. release here, and it's a fine addition to this collection. The eclectic nature of The Best Of offers a fine introduction to Reeves, though it will undoubtedly confuse some. Is she a classic jazz diva, contemporary pop stylist, or an experimenter in African rhythms? The perceptive listener will answer that she is all of these, tied together by a lovely, powerful voice. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.