Reeves doesn't want to be limited to the jazz box

| Friday, May 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Dianne Reeves fights a battle against what she calls “industry-speak” every time she performs.

That business vernacular puts music into categories, defines songs people sing, and makes performers put together tours built around themes or supporting an album.

“People get into it, and it makes them think a certain way,” she says, with a bit of a sigh.

Reeves says her concert May 4 at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild on the North Side won't be built around any musical business plan. It simply will be Reeves performing the range of material that has made her a four-time Grammy award-winner.

Reeves is a singer who has jazz technique mastered, but, at times, chooses not to use it because it does not fit a particular song. She can go from a classic jazz pieces such as “Afro Blue” to a disciplined, refined version of “Windmills of Your Mind.” She also can take a pop hit such as “Just My Imagination” and give it a new dignity.

That ability keeps her on the road with a quartet featuring pianist Peter Martin, drummer Terreon Gully, bassist Reginald Veal and Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo.

Reeves, 56, was born in Detroit and is a cousin of keyboardist/composer George Duke. Early in her career, she toured with pianists Billy Childs, Sergio Mendes and singer Harry Belafonte before releasing her first solo album in 1982.

She lives in Denver, where she grew up.

Reeves says she is able to present the variety of music she does because she tries to be honest in her style. Rather that trying to force a song in an “industry speak” format that would “fit” Dianne Reeves, she tries to reach out to songs that she could realistically perform.

She says that method is what allows her to perform well-known material or, on her upcoming album, mostly original songs. That album, coming out in the fall, is produced by drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, and will feature co-stars such as pianist Robert Glasper and Lalah Hathaway, Reeves says.

“It will show where I am at this point in time,” she says.

She seems proud of the variety in her work and says it is the reason her career has moved along so steadily.

“My audience is like my music,” she says. “It is filled with different people.”

The singer says social media has enabled her to stay in touch with that range of people, although she confesses to working only on Twitter — where her hashtag is #diannereeves1 — and avoiding Facebook.

“It is a good way to reach people,” she says. “It is a good way of eliminating boundaries.”

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7852.

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