The Soul of American Jazz ~ Dianne Reeves

Dianne Reeves perf shot 2

I had the privilege and honor to interview American Jazz great, Dianne Reeves at the 36th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival. Dianne has to date won four Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for her albums:

We sat down a few hours before she was to go on stage [June 14, 2014].

FestPop

Okay, here we go. Scotty Moore, FestPop, with Dianne Reeves

FestPop

And we are at the Playboy Jazz Festival.

Dianne

Yes.

FestPop

so, tell me, your first music festival that you went to

Dianne

The first one?

FestPop

All the way back, yeah. First music festival.

Dianne

Oh, the first one was in my hometown at, in De-

FestPop

Detroit.

Dianne

No, in, uh, I was born-

FestPop

I thought you were born in Detroit.

Dianne

I was born in Detroit but raised in Denver, Colorado, and DU Campus gave a festival, and the first group that I  saw at that festival was, uh, Funkadelic, before they were calling them the Funkadelic.

FestPop

(laughs)

Dianne

And it was, um-

FestPop

I’m 47, too. So, I, uh-

Dianne

Oh, okay. So, it was in-

FestPop

I grew up on Earth, Wind & Fire.

Dianne

Oh, okay. Yeah.

FestPop

Smokey. (laughs)

Dianne

Yeah. And, uh, members of the, the founding members of Earth, Wind & Fire are from Denver.

FestPop

Yeah.

Dianne

I used to see them too. But my first festival was Funkadelic.

FestPop

Funkadelic.

Dianne

Mm-hmm. (affirmative)

FestPop

Nice. Um, so tell me some other festivals that you’ve played at throughout the world.

Dianne

Oh, I’ve played-

FestPop

That just were memorable.

Dianne

Yeah. I, I played at, um, the Wien Festival, the Marciac Festival, the Montreux Festival, the Saratoga Festival, of course the Playboy Festival

FestPop

Any overseas, the overseas ones, anything different from overseas, about Europe festivals or typical in that-

Dianne

People, you know, people who are festival-goers around the world go to hear the music and have a good time. and I find that a common link with all, you know, music festivals. Yeah.

FestPop

Yes.

Dianne

Mm-hmm. (affirmative)

FestPop

Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. It’s not just the music, but it’s also the whole experience, right?

Dianne

Yeah.

FestPop

Are you still a fan of going to music festivals?

Dianne

Oh, yeah. Very much so. I was here last year. I wasn’t on the show. I just came and hung out for 2 days.

FestPop

Nice. What about the New Orleans Jazz Festival?

Dianne

I’ve gone down there to just hang out. I’ve done that festival many times, and sometimes I just go. (laughs)

FestPop

Okay, what about a festival you would love to play at but you haven’t been, gotten an invite yet?

Dianne

Oh.

FestPop

What-

Dianne

Um, wow. Let’s see. Let’s see, I’ve hung out at Coachella.

FestPop

(laughs)

Dianne

I’ve done, you know-

FestPop

You’ve done Coachella? (laughs)

Dianne

No, I haven’t done it. I hung out there.

FestPop

Okay.

Dianne

Um, you know, the thing is, my music is really, really broad.

FestPop

Yeah.

Dianne

And so, I would like to play at festivals that people wouldn’t ordinarily think that I would fit, but I would fit very  well because-

FestPop

Yeah.

Dianne

My music, while my foundation is Jazz, is very broad. I mean I came up-

FestPop

Yeah.

Dianne

Listening to, like, great music.

FestPop

Other music genres?

Dianne

Um, uh, (thinking) shoot. More, uh, soul music.

FestPop

Mm-hmm. (affirmative)

Dianne

Um, uh, there’s some rock elements in mine. So there’s, um-

FestPop

Yeah.

Dianne

You could take almost every record I’ve done and great a, a Brazilian record. Which I go to Brazil a lot.

FestPop

Nice.

Dianne

So, I like all kind of stuff. Blues, everything.

FestPop

Got it.

Dianne

Mm-hmm.

FestPop

Okay, um, when did you start performing?

Dianne

When did I start?

FestPop

Yeah.

Dianne

Oh, I was 12. Probably, actually earlier than that, um, with my family, you know.

FestPop

Yeah.

Dianne

But, um, when I started doin’ my first gigs, I was 12 years old.

FestPop

Wow. That’s awesome. Is your family musical?

Dianne

I have a cousin that we were gonna celebrate tonight, George Duke, who passed away. Last year he was here at this festival. And he passed away in this last year, and, um- So, I have uncles that p- I have an uncle who played with the symphony up- Many, many musicians in my, my family. I grew up, you know, around really great musicians.

FestPop

That’s awesome. Um, let me get so- So, how is it workin’ out, the, uh, you’re other last Grammy? With, uh, George Clooney, right?

Dianne

Yeah.

FestPop

Did you get to- Did he, like, talk with you? You guys have dinner, sit down?

Dianne

I was with him because we did the film.

FestPop

Exactly.

Dianne

You know, and he directed the film.

FestPop

The music’s so important.

Dianne

We hung out. He was, like, so cool.

FestPop 

But tell me that, like, whole- ‘Cause music is so- If you took out the music of a movie, it would be like nothing to me, personally.

Dianne

Yeah, but the thing that I- He even took it a step further. He-

FestPop 

Yeah.

Dianne

He said, you know, the music would, of this particular movie, was the late forties and fifties, and so it had to be done with that kind of, you know, um, understanding. And the thing that I loved, um, about George Clooney was, because of him hangin’ out with his aunt a lot, um, he understood the importance of live music. So,-

FestPop

Yeah.

Dianne

When it came time to do it, I said, “Well, um, am I lip-synching?” He said, “No.” He said, “You’re gonna perform live in the film, just, you’re gonna do, give your lines just like the actors.”

FestPop

Wow.

Dianne

So, I loved that. ‘Cause that’s where I live, you know? So, he was very respectful of that.

FestPop

But in terms of the collaboration factor, did like he say, “Let’s have dinner. Come to-” You know. In terms of-

Dianne

We hung out.

FestPop

He’d come to your gigs and see you preform too?

Dianne

Uh-uh (negative), I haven’t seen him at any [crosstalk 05:15]

FestPop

(laughs) See, obviously a director doing his research. Okay, um, so you, you play instruments?

Dianne

Oh, prior to that? Yes.

FestPop

Yeah, prior to that, yeah, obviously. Sorry. Any instr-

Dianne

Yeah, yeah. And I sent him stuff.

FestPop

Any instruments?

Dianne

Piano.

FestPop

Fondest musical memories?

Dianne

Um, oh, my goodness. (pauses)

FestPop

Okay, maybe that’s too broad. Maybe that’s too broad.

Dianne

I think- Oh, no, no, no, no. The biggest- fondest

FestPop

Okay.

Dianne

The biggest, fondest, one of the fondest musical, uh, memories that I have is when I was, uh, given the opportunity to be the Creative Chair for Jazz for the L.A. Philharmonic.

FestPop

Nice.

Dianne

Yeah. So, that was great.

FestPop

Okay, um, do you still get nervous when you perform?

Dianne

Of course, you know. But I look at nerves as, uh, opp- as, as just rolled up, uh, excitement.

FestPop

Okay. And then tell me you, your practicing preparation? Like how long a day, like you’re, do you practice?

Dianne

My biggest thing that I do- When I’m at home, I work on my voice. But before a show, the biggest thing that I do is get together with my                                                 musicians. A lot of times we have dinner together.

FestPop

Yeah.

Dianne

And then, you know, we go and we break bread and then just make it. You know, so that, um-

FestPop

If I wanted to be you guitar player, how would I audition for you?

Dianne

Uh, first of all you’d have to have a very, you know, strong personality.

FestPop

Oh.

Dianne

On your guitar. And all of my musicians, you know, ’cause I change music constantly-

FestPop

Yeah.

Dianne

They have to be able to respond in kind. That’s the biggest thing.

FestPop

Yeah, okay. Do you teach music?

Dianne

I used to teach voice. I do master classes, you know.

FestPop

Wow!

Dianne

And, um, because I work a lot-

FestPop

You’d be invited to like-

Dianne

I don’t, I don’t teach, but eventually I’ll probably stop and teach.

FestPop

And, okay, last one. Uh, how do you balance the music life with everything else, family, friends-

Dianne

I plan everything. I didn’t used to, but now I do. You know, I know when I’m goin’ out and when I’m not. And I go and have opportunities to                                        go, like I said, go to the festivals and do the things that I love to do.

 

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