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Dianne Reeves

"...Reeves has no fear of navigating diverse musical terrain..."

-- Blue Note Records
Biography Rarely have so many jazz luminaries come together for any occassion. Two time Grammy nominated vocalist Dianne Reeves assembled three generations of artists for her latest Blue Note release, The Grand Encounter. Featuring longtime Reeves' friend and mentor Clark Terry and Harry "Sweets" Edison on trumpet, saxophonists Phil Woods on alto and James Moody on tenor, trombonist Al Grey, Toots Thielemans on harmonica, and a rhythm section comprised of Kenny Barron on piano, bassist Rodney Whittaker and Herlin Riley on drums, the making of The Grand Encounter was "more of a family reunion than a recording session," boasts producer and Reeves' musical director David Torkanowsky. The concept behind this rendezvous of legends was simple enough: Reeves had worked with many of these musicians throughout her career, and had admired many others. "I thought it would be great to get all of these people together in one room. Just to see what would happen. It's a piece of history - a documentation of this wonderful event." The Grand Encounter is not only Reeves' homage to the great musicians who took part in this event, it reflects the legacy of the songs and performers who came before her - those who gave life to the music she loves. Reeves has no fear of navigating diverse musical terrain. After excursions into R&B;, jazz and world music (Dianne Reeves, Never Too Far and Quiet After the Storm), spearheaded by her mentor, friend and cousin, producer George Duke, The Grand Encounter finds Reeves delving more deeply into her jazz roots than she has in recent years, choosing an array of jazz standards and personal favorites to record with her very special musical family. Continuing the tribute to the Adderley brothers that she began on last year's Grammy Nominated Quiet After the Storm, (she re-worked "The Benediction [Country Preacher]" complete with Cannonball's original sax solo), she has turned her focus to Nat with a reflective reading of his composition "Old Country."

Reeves had never worked with harmonica great Toots Thieleman before this record. "I've always loved Toots from so many of the records he's been on," she reveals. "Everyone would always write these lush harmonies for him to play over." She chose "Besame Mucho," arranged by her longtime friend Eddie del Barrio, to showcase Toot's talent on The Grand Encounter. Reeves also chose "Cherokee," (a co-arrangement between Reeves and Kenwood Dennard) which spotlights guest alto saxophonist Bobby Watson.

Legendary vocalist Joe Williams joins Reeves on the ballad "Tenderly." "I had the opportunity to sing with the great Joe Williams only once before," Reeves recalls. "It was a 'Tribute to Joe Williams' concert at the Hollywood Bowl.' We sang 'Tenderly,' and it was pure magic!"More vocal magic comes in the form of "Ha!" with guest vocalists Germaine Bazzle, Clark Terry, James Moody and Kimberley Longstreth, a playful number capitalizing on the joyous mood in the studio. Bazzle also joins Reeves for a little improvising on "Side by Side." "Germaine Bazzle is widely regarded as the Queen of the New Orleans' vocalists. The first time I heard her sing, she swung me into bad health!" Reeves laughs.
Studio work, with full immersion into a musical culture, welcomed Dianne to Los Angeles. Sessions with Lenny White, Stanley Turrentine, Alphonso Johnson, The Latin Ensemble and Caldera (led by her longtime friend and collaborator Eddie del Barrio), added depth to her musical vocabulary.

As her career has blossomed, Reeves has forged lasting friendships with many of the musicians that appear on The Grand Encounter. Numerous others have been influential in the development of her distinctive style. Her association with Clark Terry, in fact, goes back to her teenage years. Her high school band competed for and won the chance to perform in Chicago at the National Association of Jazz Educators conference. Teny, in attendance, heard Reeves for the first time and promised to contact her soon. "He invited me to perform with his All Star groups," Reeves recalls. It was with Terry that Reeves met Al Grey, as well as Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Grady Tate, George Duvivier and Tommy Flanagan, among others. Reeves was ecstatic. "That was my first Grand Encounter," she says, "and I can't think of more fertile soil in which to be planted!"
Later,while performing with the Philip Morris Big Band, Reeves made the ecquaintance of both Harry"Sweets" Edison and James Moody. "After performing in Clark's All Star groups, he told me 'I'll be in touch with you,"' Reeves remembers. "Little did I know he'd be in touch for the rest of my life."

After her discovery by Terry, a then sixteen-year-old Reeves continued to perform with the trumpeter while she attended the University of Colorado. Born in Detroit, MI, Reeves and her family had moved to Denver,CO when she was two years old. Moving to Los Angeles in 1976, she continued to enrich her musical vocabulary, working with The Latin Ensemble and Caldera (led by her longtime friend and collaborator Eddie del Barrio) and Billy Childs.

Reeves began working with vocal coach Phil Moore in 1980. As her career gathered momentum, she auditioned for Sergio Mendes and Harry Belafonte in 1983, joining both for world tours. Her first two albums, Welcome to My Love, a collaboration with Billy Childs and For Every Heart were recorded for the Palo Alto Jazz label. A compilation of the two were recently released by Blue Note as The Palo Alto Sessions.

In 1987, Reeves performed at the "Echoes of Ellington" concert in Los Angeles, garnering her first Grammy nomination as well as catching the ear of Blue Note president, Bruce Lundvall. Dianne Reeves was signed to Blue Note/EMI Records shortly after, recording albums for both Blue Note (Dianne Reeves in 1987 and I Remember in 1991) and EMI (Never Too Far in 1989, Art and Survival in 1994) before returning to Blue Note for good on 1995's Quiet After the Storm, which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal performance.

Now, Reeves has come full circle, returning to the music and musicians that were with her at the beginning. Yesteryear, Reeves was a bright-eyed teenager, striving to find her musical way, but encouraged and nurtured by a host of musical legends. The Grand Encounter heralds Dianne Reeves' coming of age, her voice and spirit matured and refined, able to more than hold her own in the midst of jazz royalty. "The whole time we were recording, I kept thinking 'I'm home'," Reeves reminisces. "Surrounded by such warm and wonderful people, such talented musicians, I couldn't help but feel like I was at home."