The inspired collaboration of jazz singer Dianne Reeves and saxophonist/arranger/director Matt Catingub results in a CD which epitomizes much of the cabaret music of the '50s and '60s. Reeves's full, rich contralto is set off to perfection here by Catingub's sax, the timbre of her voice matching that of his tenor sax. Her ability to express the emotion of the lyrics while maintaining total control of her magnificent voice parallels that of some of the greats of the period--Sarah Vaughan, Helen Merrill, Chris Connor--while her background in modern jazz gives a fresh sound to these songs from a generation ago.
The arrangements of Honolulu-born Catingub are so true to the period that they sound as if they could have been written for Mel Torme, Sinatra, or any of cabaret's best "girl singers." Son of jazz legend Mavis Rivers, for whom he did the arrangements late in her career, Catingub knows the '50s and '60s inside out--its sultry rhythms and funky beats, the soft romanticism of the ballads, and the importance of voice and instruments creating a single mood. Here, with his sax contributions, the wonderfully subtle piano of Peter Martin, the bass of Robert Hurst, and the drums of Jeff Hamilton accompanying Dianne Reeves, no additional instrumentation is needed.
Most of the songs are gorgeous ballads, often with strong, vampy beats, including "Straighten Up," "I've Got My Eyes on You," "Gotta Be This or That," "Pretend," "In My Solitude," and "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall," all songs familiar to lovers of music of the period. Less familiar (and my favorite on the album) is "Who's Minding the Store?" a moody, melancholy ballad in a minor key, with the piano and sax helping to create the mood. Peggy Lee's "There'll be Another Spring" may be the prettiest song on the CD, and "When I Fall in Love" is the only instrumental. Dinah Washington's novelty song "TV is the Thing This Year," is rock/jive, and "Too Close for Comfort" and "You're Driving Me Crazy," pick up the tempo and beat.
A fantastic collaboration which gives new life to song standards that are forty to fifty years old, this CD introduces new audiences to music from the '50s and '60s and to the voice of Dianne Reeves. Those who have enjoyed this CD will hear an equally brilliant (but different-sounding) Dianne on "A Little Moonlight," "In the Moment: Live in Concert," and "The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan," all of which have won Grammy Awards. Mary Whipple