The applause started when she walked onto the stage, before a single note was sung. It continued to the very end of the show and beyond the encore. Dianne Reeves' concert at the South Bank must surely be one of the jazz events of the year and a if not the highlight of this year's London Jazz Festival.
Her extremely accomplished band opened up with a lengthy workout of Summertime before Dianne herself joined them, going straight into Dreams, the old Fleetwood Mac number given a new arrangement. One of the tracks on her recently released album Beautiful Life, it was greeted with cheers just a few bars in. She really did have them eating from her hand! We were treated to a number of songs from the new album - several of them covers including jazz standard Stormy Weather sung slightly behind the beat and a reggae influenced version of the Bob Marley classic, Waiting in Vain - both with a Dianne Reeves stamp on them, making them her own as she has so many other classics over the years.
Then there was Tango, her own composition and something she described as an homage to "all of the songs I have purchased but never been able to understand". Completely improvised with references to both Latin and African music, it was so convincing that non-Spanish speakers (like me) could well have been fooled into thinking there were real lyrics to this piece! It reminded me a little of Buena Vista Social Club but mixed with West African music too - something a little different from Dianne!
I don't think there is anything that Ms. Reeves cannot sing, but for me, she is at her best singing classic jazz standards. She treated us to her version of I'm In Love Again, written (with Cy Coleman) and made famous by Peggy Lee, although I love Blossom Dearie's version best. It was just perfect. Big sighs of contentment from me and I am sure from many others in the audience as she worked her way through the lyrics to my favourite verse - "I'm alive again, I can wake up and sing. Nothing bores me now, I enjoy everything" . I wanted her to sing it again straight away. Dianne recorded this on her When You Know album. She also performed the heavily gospel influenced Today Will Be A Good Day from the same recording.
Ms. Reeves was supported by a quartet of world class musicians. Peter Martin shone on piano, especially on I'm in Love Again, demonstrating a real intimacy between instrument and voice. Romero Lubambo on guitar, Reginald Veal on bass and the wonderful Terreon Gully on drums completed the line-up that made this a very special occasion.