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Dianne Reeves Pitch Perfect in Opening Night at Bellevue Jazz Fest

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Designed to be a large-scale, high impact, civic ritual befitting a burgeoning metropolis, the Bellevue Jazz Festival opened Friday night with a headline show that equaled its intentions when vocalist Dianne Reeves delivered what should turn out to be the most memorable performance of the festival.

A widely celebrated singer with the celebrity heft and the hardware (four Grammy Awards) to carry a big-money jazz festival, Reeves served herself up in a most unusual way, accompanied by two guitars, one acoustic, one electric, providing a new context to a voice that is as pure and pitch-perfect as they come.

For the past year, she has sang with Romero Lubambo on acoustic guitar and Russell Malone on electric guitar, a configuration originally conceived for a European tour and relatively new to audiences in the U.S. Malone's guitar work included a few electronic effects that mimicked strings and organ.

But overall, the sound of the trio was uncluttered, stripped down and highly melodic. Malone, a bona fide wizard in his own right, provided most of the backbeat and framed each song with deliberate strumming; Lubambo provided deep texture and translucent harmony.

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