Much of the moody atmosphere of Good Night and Good Luck, George Clooney‘s film about Edward R. Murrow, came from its smooth soundtrack of jazz standards by Dianne Reeves.
When Reeves won her fourth Grammy for the recording, I expected her to follow up with an album of her own fairly quickly. Instead, she took her time, collecting just the right musical mix to highlight her vocals. The result, When You Know, is likely to be Grammy No. 5.
If you’re not familiar with Reeves, take a few minutes to listen to her incredible rendition of Summertime, from a 1992 performance in New Orleans. I’ve probably heard 25 versions of Gershwin’s classic in my musical lifetime, but I’ve never heard what Reeves did with the song, taking it to an entirely different level — with scat.
On When You Know, Reeves departs from the Great American Songbook with songs from the ’60s and ’70s. The classic "Just My Imagination" is like soft, smooth, silky, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. I doubt I’ll ever enjoy the Temptations‘ version quite as much again. But I’m a sucker for anyone who can hit notes as squarely in the middle as Reeves does.
On her website, Reeves explains that each song on the album represents a different aspect of her experience with love: "There is a Gustav Klimt painting I had seen at the Belvedere in Vienna of a young woman moving through life. I remember loving the various depictions of the phases of her life from innocence to increasing maturity. In a similar way, this album progresses through songs which celebrate different phases of love, in much the same way our notions of love change as we move through time."
The highlight of the album for me is "Today Will Be a Good Day," which Reeves wrote for Vada, her 84-year-old mother, who inspires her to stay positive despite hard times. "I do not entertain illness, boredom or depression," Vada told her. "I feel them sometimes, but I don’t entertain them."
Even if you’re not normally a jazz fan, I encourage you to listen to the preview of When You Know, and make your Monday a good day.