Dianne Reeves is one of the best vocalists I've ever heard. As an example, just check her performance on the soundtrack of the movie "Goodnight & Good Luck". I was recommended by George Duke to work as musical director with Dianne in the late 80s, but couldn't find the time due to my recording of "The Color of the Truth". I suggested David Torkanowski (who was perfect for the job).
I got a call from David a year or so later, inviting me to play with Dianne & their ensemble at the famous Blue Note Jazz Club in New York. I jumped at the chance. My parts were synth strings, horns, & Rhodes piano to fill out the material.
We rehearsed without her, but I finally met her in New York. She was great... chill & positive.We rehearsed without her, but I finally met her in New York. She was great... chill & positive.
The first night we played, we started with a mid-tempo swing tune that had a sharp 4-bar intro. David told me to watch him for cues. Dianne jumped in after the intro, and sang the verse & chorus of the song... David suddenly waved us all to cut off as Dianne began an acapella scat to the audience... she improvised while pointing out folks in the crowd, changing keys & meter. I was mesmerized by this, & eventually whispered to David "are you gonna give her a chord to get back to the original key?"
He smiled back & cryptically said "just check this out". As Dianne finished the scat, she sang & held a note, while David counted us in again on the intro. Remarkably she had come all the way back to the original key without any help. I was blown away…
"Dianne came in & layered a multitude of voices (high & low) which was amazing."
El DeBarge is music royalty... he sings, composes, & plays with taste & groove. I had the pleasure of working with Maurice White on his "In the Storm" album. El is an open book. You can feel his honesty come through. I also loved his writing style- using a unique chordal approach to very catchy melodies.
Jump ahead to 1995... I was working on my album "All Things in Time". It had a combination of instrumental & vocal songs with an emphasis on groove. I wanted the last cut to be something longer & more intricate.
I was renting a studio room at the time from Dianne Warren on her floor. One day she introduced me to a young artist from Kinshasa living in France named Jean-Paul Wabotai. He followed me to my studio & asked if I'd like to jam. I agreed, put in a cassette, & I followed a melodic pattern as he sang in an African dialect, & added some chords. When we finished, I asked him what he was singing about. He said something like "we were of the same family, that all men are brothers, & we should be kind to each other." I loved that…
"I was mesmerized by this, & eventually whispered to David "are you gonna give her a chord to get back to the original key?"
I got an idea about that little jam... I thought we could present it like it might be played in Africa first, & then morph it into a Herbie Hancock-type groove here in America. I titled it
"Across the Water"... I had Dianne in mind to sing the first half, & El for the 2nd- fortunately, they both agreed to help. My pal & co-producer Jimi Randolph did his usual brilliant job sequencing drums & bass, & I added Brandon Fields on sax (like I always have since "Images"). Joe Vannelli later gave us a great mix…
Dianne came in & layered a multitude of voices (high & low) which was amazing. El complimented her in the 2nd verse & continued throughout the rest of the song. It was great to watch both of them interpret & each add something special to it. I learned from them & others to step back & let gifted musicians make their contributions.
I'm indebted to both of these brilliant artists…
Winner of the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2015, Beautiful Life showcases Dianne’s sublime gifts in what is a melding of R&B, Latin and pop elements within the framework of 21st Century jazz.
he is best known for his unique high tenor register, strong falsetto and hits like "Who's Johnny" and "Love Always". He has also collaborated with artists such as Dionne Warwick, Al Green, Lalah Hathaway, Tone Loc, Babyface, Faith Evans, Quincy Jones, Fourplay, and DJ Quik. DeBarge is a five-time Grammy Award nominee.