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An imposing woman with a warm, strong voice and sound musical instincts, Dianne Reeves is a satisfying, often commanding live performer. However, her energy and spontaneity diminish when she enters a recording studio. Perhaps it’s a consequence of the cold, clinical studio environment or of the pressure of knowing that every note is being captured for posterity. Whatever the reason, her CDs tend to stress cautiousness and correctness at the expense of immediacy and inspiration. Her last album, The Grand Encounter, failed to catch fire, despite the presence of a veteran all-star jazz ensemble including Clark Terry, Sweets Edison, Phil Woods, James Moody, Toots Thielemans, Kenny Barron, and Joe Williams. On her new project, she’s backed by more contemporary playerspianist Mulgrew Miller, guitarist Kevin Eubanks, trumpeter Oscar Brashear, drummer Terri Lyne Carringtonyet the chilling effect remains. She displays impeccable vocal technique, but her interpretations of standards (“Blue Prelude,” “Exactly Like You”) and pop tunes (“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” “Just a Little Lovin’”) are perfunctory and impersonal. Although exceedingly easy listening, That Day… is a disappointingly soulless experience. Perhaps a live recording would capture the resourcefulness that this talented lady has yet to communicate on disc.
Joel E. Siegel