It takes a jazz musician to make the perfect pop record.....,
This review is from: Beautiful Life (Audio CD)
This record initially took me by surprise. Having decanted from Blue Note, I was quite amazed that Dianne Reeves would fetch up on Concord with a new disc which is effectively a pop record. Having heard her perform live on a number of occasions, Dianne Reeves is one of my favourite jazz artists and even though I love hearing more experimental styles of jazz, I think she remains one of the best artists I have seen perform in concert. Not only is her voice perhaps the closest to perfect in singing since Ella but she puts on a brilliant show. I love her music, whether it straight ahead jazz, records with large orchestras or something more fusion orientated. Without doubt Dianne Reeves is World Class.
"Beautiful Life" is certainly more commercial than anything I have heard her do before. Normally I'm not too fussed by pop yet this is a record which puts her popular compatriots completely in the shade. The production is top notch and whilst the soloists don't have so much room to stretch out, I feel the arrangements are fabulous. This CD hits the ground running with three fantastic arrangement with even a Fleetwood Mac tune sounding like it was a piece of jazz. All the covers are transformed into credible jazz vehicles - no surprise as the singer has a track record of achieving this. The guest appearances are somewhat muted or in the background albeit the duet with the brilliant Gregory Porter suggests that a future collaboration that would match the Ray Charles / Betty Carter album of about fifty years ago. The record gets more sassy on "32 flavours" before continuing in a more mellow mode. For me, the best is saved to last with the original "long road ahead" which seems like a vintage composition despite being written by Dianne Reeves for the album.
The record boasts an impressive array of guests such as Sean Jones, the late George Duke, Gregoire Maret, Gerald Clayton, Robert Glasper and Marvin Sewell as well as singers Esperanza Spalding, Gregory Porter and Lalah Hathaway. However, Dianne Reeves is very much the star albeit the arrangements by the great Terri Lyne Carrington also add a degree of classy veneer which fully deserve favourable comment.
I suppose that the adventurous jazz credentials are less audible than on her previous albums but when the results are as good as this it would be foolish to complain. The record has rarely been out of my player since Christmas and is one that certainly gets the thumbs up from me. No surprise to find a jazz musician better at making a pop record than 99% of pop artists.