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Dianne Reeves Reflects on Love Songs, and Shares Some Wisdom, with Rhonda Hamilton

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Bennett Raglin
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Dianne Reeves performs at the Apollo Theatre, Feb. 14, 2008

As WBGO prepares to bid farewell to Rhonda Hamilton, we're dipping into our archives to share some of her favorite interviews. She conducted this one, with Grammy-winning vocalist Dianne Reeves, on Jan. 18, 2008.

At the time, Reeves was preparing for a Valentine's Day concert at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. So the conversation began with a reflection on that historic room, and the love songs that have always been a cornerstone of Reeves' repertoire. 

"Everything that I approach, I give it a jazz sensibility," Reeves says. "The reason is because jazz is such a living music. When you see it, it's what it is in that moment." She goes on to say that her band (which then included Geoffrey Keezer on piano, Reginald Veal on bass and Gregory Hutchinson on drums) has never been a "backing band," but rather an arrangement of collaborators. 

The conversation also touches on Reeves' relationship with several core jazz-vocal influences — Sarah, Ella, Billie — and the way she chooses her material. At one point Rhonda asks what element first attracts her to a song, and Dianne is quick to single out lyrics. "I like to be able to tell a story," she says, "and I like to find something that I understand, that I know about, or want to know about."

Dianne Reeves makes her return at the Newport Jazz Festival this Saturday, Aug. 3. For more information about her, visit her website.