- Listen: Jazz Without Boundaries
Listen: Jazz Without Boundaries
By Taryn Plater
Jazz musicians have been repurposing songs from other genres for a century. Whether borrowing from Broadway or incorporating bossa nova rhythms, inter-genre inspiration is a large part of the jazz tradition. Dianne Reeves is no exception.
Reeves inhabits her own genre within the framework of modern jazz. Influenced by the sounds of R&B, Latin, pop, folk, she covers songs from all these worlds and beyond.
Collected here are some of her far-reaching interpretations.
In Your Eyes
The 1999 album Bridges is one of Reeves’ most eclectic, and is both criticized and praised for focusing almost entirely on new arrangements of folk and pop songs. This Peter Gabriel classic feels completely comfortable with its neo-soul makeover.
As Duke Ellington borrowed from the Gershwin’s, jazz artists of the past forty years have borrowed repertoire from the great American musical theatre composer, Stephen Sondheim. I Remember comes from one of his lesser-known musicals, Evening Primrose. Subtly adapted jazz harmonies and Reeve’s sensitively artistry make this a noteworthy cover of a beautiful piece.
With this piece, Reeves accomplishes an impressive transformation of a basic folk song to what feels like a jazz-based art song. Reeves’ melodic embellishments and the orchestration support the poetry with a shimmering that depicts the “recreation of the first day”.
“My musical selections are a reflection of how I grew up. Because, back then, you could see Miles Davis and Ravi Shankar on the same stage. And nobody thought anything of it, other than the fact that it was great music. So I just do the records I want to do. If I want to sing a rock song or a country song, I’ll sing it.” – Dianne Reeves (San Diego Tribune, 2016)
Waiting in Vain
On her newest album Beautiful Life, Reeves presents memorable covers alongside two original compositions. Of these covers, the most exciting has to be her Bob Marley arrangement, featuring Lalah Hathaway. Weaving together reggae, bossa nova, and a section of Afro-Caribbean scat, as with everything she does, Reeves makes this piece completely her own.
“Listen to all the music you want to listen to, but be yourself, because there’s nobody like you. Develop that – your uniqueness – and stand behind it, push it, because those are the things that are going to make things change.” –Dianne Reeves (London Jazz News, 2015)