Jazzkaar Journal: Dianne Reeves, George Duke and Tallinn Shine
After the break, Reeves and company shifted into high gear with the great, crowd-grabbing gimmick of scat-calling the band back one by one for "Our Love is Here to Stay." Reeves paced herself perfectly and peaked as she ended on virtual high notes and even screams with "Social Call" and "Misty." Emotion cascaded in chords from "The Windmills of Your Mind" and with it a guitar solo that earned Lubambo MVP honors for the evening.
Then came a rare, precious moment.
Every once in a while, sometimes on full moon nights like tonight, all the notes are perfect. You get an ecstasy for the ear that makes it clear why one follows the jazz scene. One of those freeze frames came as Reeves closed with her rousing, relatively new anthem "When You Know" and brought down the house, hard but happy. Reeves belted out medium-high notes with majestic inflection while the band nailed a descending refrain, but what made it special was the rocking crowd, many in formal attire. The piano duet encore was mainly an afterglow for the adoring customers, who roared in appreciation and bought up every post concert Reeves CD available.
"The people who support this music are just as important as the people who play it," said Reeves. From her efforts tonight, it truly looked like Reeves meant that, too.
Stages were set for performance precision earlier in the evening as local princess- to-be Kadri Voorand and The Netherlands' cheerfully chugging Ploctones warmed up squeezed-in, standing room crowds at the RCC. The early acts played wildly different sets on different floors of the building, but each reached an elevated level as well-received, offbeat counter-balances to Reeves' straight ahead approach.
The Ploctones are led by guitarist Anton Goudsmit, a brainy, zany type who would appear to have a built in fan base around the spacier extremes of his homeland. Goudsmit coaxed his hollow body Gretsch into a variety of switching, stretched chords while the rest of the band (Efrain Trujillo/sax, Martin Vink/drums, Joroen Viertag/bass) kept up with a knowing flourish.
"This is the most beautiful place we've played," said Goudsmit staring into the double balconies. The Ploctones launched into the type of flailing fusion that they promote as a puree of punk to pop. Close enough. Under phrases that screeched to a halt then switched directions drastically, bluegrass blues rose indeed. On "Shortcuts" the intensity between guitar and sax had the crowd yelling in approval. The subtle, searching tones of Bill Evans's "Time Remembered" were perfect for drifting away to the nearby coastline, while "Pig's Eye," a penis homage, brought the set to a loud, pun-intended head.
Voorand showed she may just be a break or two from breaking out into the global market. On Echo of a Feeling (Sheikid, 2009) Voorand demonstrated an advanced vocal and songwriting ability along the lines of classic ballads or swing. On her CD cover Voorand looked almost too youthful for the depth of her compositions and delivery. Tonight, seated between bassist Taavo Remmel and guitarist Virgo Sillamaa, Voorand took a different tack with her "You and Me" project, based on a collection of Estonian poetry. Voorand's interpretations ranged from whispers, jests and romantic murmurs to smooth, intimate storytelling. Voorand explained singing subtexts from stimulus like "the color of August is like apple." Even untranslated language was clear.
"My music has always been more about harmonies," said Voorand after her show. "There was much more freedom tonight because we had open moments where we didn't know what to do. I wanted a concert about the words. As a musician I was very pleased it was welcomed so warmly."
Voorand admitted her own uncertainty as to what response the low-key format would elicit from a consumer base known for partying, but her light, expressive persona, singing range and literary loops paid off. Voorand explored some of the scatland Reeves would later map out, and had the audience giggling one moment then applauding boisterously the next. Less than two hundred patrons could sardine themselves into the small hall designated for Voorand, who later said she was surprised at the turnout for a poetry theme. The charming Voorand doesn't need to be modest. Big talent deserves a big hall. Keep your eye out for this lady.
Funky fusion took front and center the next night, as George Duke turned the already cozy Rock Cafe into a steaming, sweaty playhouse of grooves. The revamped industrial space was crammed with around 500 revelers who might have been too much for US Fire Marshalls but just fine with the well lubricated masses who were ready to get down.
"Some of you know what we do, and some of you don't," Duke grinned to the crowd, a wide-ranging mix of ages, "What we do is everything!"