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And What A Night It Was - Dianne Reeves And The CSO

December 15, 2010

She truly has attained Diva status, and deservedly so. Dianne Reeves commands the stage, the room, and - at the cavernous Boettcher Hall in Denver - an audience of around 2600. In the palm of her hand, as they say. Since Denver is her home town, the applause had an extra few degrees of warmth.

Her quartet was comprised of long-time accompanist Peter Martin on piano, Reginald Veal on bass (both upright and electric), Terreon Gully on drums, and filling in pro tem was Peter Sprague on guitar. Very competent, fully in tune with her whims and ad libs, and not daunted by the cavernous acoustics, her quartet held it together as if they were playing in an intimate jazz club, which the Boettcher Hall is anything but...

Marvin Hamlish would have to be one of the least decorum-obsessed star conductors, as shown by his easy-going manner on the podium and quirky quips on the microphone. The orchestra handled the charts well - a few Christmas chestnuts and a larger number of refined arrangements, some highly coloristic and sophisticated, mostly from the pen of Peter Martin.

The sound was probably as good as you can get it for an amplified orchestra on a pops night. There is no way around the fact that the in-the-round Boettcher Hall will always be problematic for amplified music, with its 3.5 second reverb time, a slap-back echo from the curved ceiling, and a curious boomy resonance around B below middle C.

Heck, it's problematic for any kind of music; the musicians in the orchestra sections can't hear the other sections well enough, and if it hadn't been for the economic downturn of the last couple of years, serious rebuiiding would by now be well underway. Fingers crossed for the future.

There were a lot of Neumann and Sennheiser mics on stage, many more than at the last concert recording I reported about, which was in our September issue. Plus, this time there were also monitor wedges on stage, controlled by a large monitor mix station in a wing off stage.

Advanced high-tech gear included remote-controlled Grace preamps, and DaySequerra equipment for 5.1-to-Lt/Rt (broadcast stereo) encoding. Mike Pappas and his crew, Dianne Reeves' Paul Boothe on FOH, and Brett Dowlen on MM, executed a complex assignment with aplomb - I'll bring you a report, diagrams, equipment lists and photos of last night's concert in our February issue.

To hear the results of last night's efforts, look to your local NPR stations and to the NPR and PRI websites for broadcast times. In Denver it will be on KUVO 89.3, at 7PM on Christmas Eve.

Joey Kloss, Mike Pappas' trusted right-hand man, makes last-minute adjustments in what passes for the control room in the bowels of Boettcher Hall.

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