Jazz is the foundation of Dianne Reeves’ music, but it’s not the only musical style this Grammy Award-winning singer loves to perform.
Reeves showcases her eclectic musical repertoire-a melding of R&B, Latin, soul and pop elements within the framework of 21st century jazz-at the Lensic Performing Arts Center on February 26.
Appearing with Peter Martin (piano), Reginald Veal (bass), Terreon Gully (drums) and Romero Lubambo (guitar), her program includes tunes from her latest album “Beautiful Life,” winner of the 2015 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album, along with songs written since then.
“When I started singing, I had never heard of the word ‘genre’ when it came to music,” says Reeves, whose taste in music includes African-inspired folk and world music.
“I listened to all kinds of sounds,” she continues, “from Marvin Gaye to Bob Marley and Fleetwood Mac. I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing the Beatles. The way I saw things, there weren’t any musical boundaries.”
Raised in Denver where she currently lives, Reeves was born into a musical family. Her father sang, her mother played the trumpet and her uncle, classical and jazz bassist Charles Burrell, played with the Denver, Chicago and San Francisco symphonies.
A few years after graduating from high school Reeves moved to Los Angeles, singing with jazz tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine and Grammy Award-winning jazz fusion drummer Lenny White. In the 1980s she relocated to New York City where she began collaborating with singer/songwriter Harry Belafonte. They toured together from 1983 through 1986.
“When I first started touring with Harry, I was focused on the technical aspects of music,” Reeves recalls. “What I learned from him was that lyrics are important. There’s power to words. Now, when I decide which songs to perform and record, I look for ones with words that touch me.”
In May of 2016, Reeves was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts by the Juilliard School for her “breathtaking virtuosity, improvisational prowess and unique jazz and R&B style.”