Integriti Reeves is developing her art the right way. Purists may guffaw about studying music in an academic setting, but Reeves’ time at prestigious Howard University exerted an obvious influence over her burgeoning artistic vision. She has logged time working alongside musical powerhouses both past and present and soaked in their effects. Reeves has the talent and ambition alike to echo the past in an individual way and ground her music deep in the present rather than sounding like pastiche. The single “En Vim Da Bahia” covers the original recorded by Gilberto Gil and embraces some familiarity with Gil’s version while Reeves lays her own personal touch on the song and freshens it for a modern audience. If the remaining songs on her debut EP Stairway to the Stars match her accomplishment with “En Vim Da Bahia”, she’s opening a memorable road towards even greater glories to come.
It’s hard to not believe in those glories when you hear her voice for the first time. She has versatility usually the result of years of seasoning present in every vocal line, even those when she scats rather than sings actual words, and her voice demonstrates every bit of the range and facility of the players accompanying her. Music like this, for me, succeeds when there is a dialogue of sorts between the singer and instrumental contributors. Integriti Reeves is fortunate to be working with musicians who share her musical vision rather than needing to rise above subpar or unimaginative accompaniment.
The differences between her version of the song and Gil’s original are evident if you seek out his take on the tune. It is an instructive experience. Instead of treating the song like a butterfly pinned under glass, Reeves uses Gil’s interpretation of the tune as a jumping off point for her own and refashions it according to her own instincts while still retaining the spirit of Gil’s original. It is a delicate balancing act not all performers can achieve or maintain.
However, as mentioned earlier, she’s lucky to have such five star accompaniment. The guitar work, especially, functions as a second vocalist for the most part and backs Reeves’ efforts with eloquent phrases and colorful yet understated flourishes that bring a great deal to this song. The violin doesn’t have as much presence in the song as the guitar, but no matter – its sole turn in the spotlight is one of the most rewarding sections of this track and constitutes a third voice in this musical duet.
“En Vim Da Bahia”, translated into English from Portuguese as “I Came From Bahia”, has a worthy interpreter in Integriti Reeves and she treats the song like the vibrant and still relevant composition it is rather than a museum piece needing handling with kid gloves. Modern audiences will respond, perhaps without knowing, to the longstanding traditional elements running through the recording, but they will respond as well to the totally modern presentation and the first class vocal talent in the center of the song.
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