One of the best jazz singers of her generation, Dee Dee Bridgewater had to move to France to find herself. She performed in Michigan during the '60s and toured the Soviet Union in 1969 with the University of Illinois Big Band. She sang with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis orchestra (1972-1974) and appeared in the Broadway musical The Wiz (1974-1976). Due to erratic records and a lack of direction, Bridgewater was largely overlooked in the jazz world by the time she moved to France in the '80s. She appeared in the show Lady Day and at European jazz festivals, and eventually formed her own backup group. By the late '80s, Bridgewater's Verve recordings started to alert American listeners to her singing talents. Her 1995 Horace Silver tribute disc (Love and Peace) was a gem, and resulted in the singer extensively touring the U.S, reintroducing herself to American audiences. She found even more success with another tribute album, Dear Ella, which won a Grammy in 1997. This Is New, released in 2002, featured Bridgewater singing Kurt Weill songs, while 2005's J'ai Deux Amours found her tackling French classics. For 2010's Eleanora Fagan (1917-1959): To Billie with Love from Dee Dee, Bridgewater moved from Verve to Decca/Emarcy, and offered her versions of several songs associated with Billie Holiday. She followed this in August 2011 with her sophomore effort for the label: a compilation collection of jazz standards entitled Midnight Sun, with tunes from previous albums ranging from "Angel Eyes" to Horace Silver's "Lonely Woman." In 2014, she produced and appeared on trumpeter Theo Croker's album Afro Physicist. Bridgewater's 2015 effort, Dee Dee's Feathers, found her paying homage to the history of New Orleans, as well as marking the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. A collaboration between Bridgewater, New Orleans trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, the album also featured appearances from such New Orleans luminaries as keyboardist Dr. John and percussionist Bill Summers. In 2017, Bridgewater paid homage to the music of Memphis, Tennessee, her birthplace, on the album Memphis....Yes, I'm Ready. A collection of classic R&B, soul, and rock & roll numbers associated with other Memphis musicians, the album was recorded at Royal Recorders in the Bluff City, where Al Green cut many of his biggest hits.
© Scott Yanow /TiVo