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New Star Statements / Dee Dee Bridgewater

 

 

DeeDee Bridgewater

 

Photocredit: Mark Higashino

 

 

Biography - Dee Dee Bridgewater

 

Dee Dee Bridgewater
Eleanora Fagan (1917-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee
 
Over the course of a multifaceted career that has spanned four decades, Dee Dee Bridgewater has risen to the
top tier of today’s jazz  vocalists, putting her own unique spin  on standards as well as taking intrepid leaps of
faith  in re-envisioning jazz  classics. For  her latest  recording, Eleanora Fagan (1917-1959): To  Billie  With Love
From Dee Dee, Bridgewater honors an iconic jazz figure, Billie Holiday, who  died  tragically at the age of 44 a
half-century ago.
 
“This album is my way of paying my respect to a vocalist who made it possible for singers like me to carve out a
career for ourselves,” says Bridgewater, who performed the role of Holiday in the triumphant theatrical production, Lady  Day—based  on the  singer’s autobiography, Lady  Sings the  Blues—staged  in Paris and  London  in
1986 and 1987. “I wanted Eleanora Faganto be something different: more modern and a celebration, not a [recording] that goes dark and sullen and maudlin. I wanted the album to be joyful.”
 
Bridgewater adds that Eleanora Fagangoes far deeper than being a tribute album of retreaded  Holiday tunes.
“Billie deserves to  have her  music heard  in another light,” she says, “and  I  definitely didn’t set out to  imitate
her.”
 
Key to the fresh approach is pianist Edsel Gomez, Bridgewater’s longtime band mate who wrote new arrangements for the 12 songs on the album, including the African polyrhythmic-charged interpretation of “Lady Sings
the Blues, “ a reharmonized version of “All of Me” and the gospel-tinged “God Bless the Child.” Says Bridgewater: “Edsel is an extremely gifted, talented arranger with very modern ideas. Edsel has the ability to be modern and work in a tasteful fashion.”
 
Gomez took on the daunting challenge of bringing new life to the music with enthusiasm. “I listened to  everything Billie Holiday ever recorded,” he says. “I let her music speak to me.” He also kept in mind the personalities
of the all-star band Bridgewater had assembled for the recording: dynamic reeds player James Carter, bassist
Christian McBride and drummer Lewis Nash.
 
“This was my dream band,” says Bridgewater. “I got to work with these musicians who I’d  been dying to play
with. I thought, I can’t miss. With this band I can have a hard-swinging, touching celebration of Billie’s music.”
 
Bridgewater sings into the nuances of such songs as “Good Morning Heartache,” “Lover Man” and  “Fine and
Mellow” with an allure that’s equal parts sexy, spunky and sublime. “This was the first time when I wasn’t concerned about having a particular sound of voice,” Bridgewater says. “I was just singing from my gut. It was all
so swinging and so soulful.”
 
Other  highlights  include  the  haunting  “You’ve  Changed”  with  Carter  blowing  smoky  soul  to  complement
Bridgewater’s moving vocals,  the  spunky  “Mother’s  Son-in-Law”  with  McBride  dueting with  the  coquettish
singer, and the uptempo “Miss Brown to You” featuring Nash’s drumming prowess.
 
Over the course of her career, Bridgewater has paid homage to monumental figures of the music world, recording albums dedicated to Ella Fitzgerald  (the Grammy Award-winning  Dear Ella, 1997), Horace Silver (Love and
Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver, 1995) and Kurt Weill (This Is New, 2002).
 
But with Eleanora Fagan—the follow-up to 2007’s brilliant Red Earth: A Malian Journeythat melded the music of
Mali with jazz—Bridgewater delivers one  of the most remarkable  recording performances of her career. “Dee
Dee is a spirited dynamo and a soulful balladeer,” says liner note writer Dan Ouellette. “She sings with a razoredged  voice; she scats with abandon; she makes you cry. She even chokes up herself upon  descending into
the ghoulish drama of ‘Strange Fruit,’ which serves as the album’s poignant finale. She gives a moving read with
a sparse arrangement supporting her.”
 
Instead  of playing it safe and recreating her performance in Lady Day, on Eleanora Fagan, Bridgewater reacquaints herself with Holiday, shining a new ray of love on the often-misunderstood  jazz icon. “I wanted the record to be a collection that would  not be like the music of the show,” she says. That philosophy is in keeping
with Bridgewater’s approach to  all of her projects: “I want to move forward, just as I’ve done with each of my
albums. To not go backwards, but progress. Constantly.”


StarStatements.com möchte sich bedanken bei:
Dee Dee Bridgewater
& Alisse Kingsley ( Muse Media, Los Angeles )

Frank Gerber

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