COMPOSERS: Billie Holiday,Cole Porter
ALBUM TITLE: Dee Dee Bridgewater
PERFORMER: Dee Dee Bridgewater
CATALOGUE NO: 543 354-2
While there are plenty of jazz singers today, and no shortage of younger artists in this most demanding arena, there are precious few who, like Bridgewater, are able to give real, personal meaning to the words they sing or convey the drama inherent in a song’s lyrics.
Although she sang alongside a host of big names while learning her craft on the New York jazz scene in the early Seventies, she had gravitated to the Broadway stage by 1974. In 1984 her peripatetic lifestyle saw her move from New York to Paris, starring in the musical Sophisticated Ladies.
In France she was reclaimed as a jazz singer and her extraordinary range of experiences made it seem as if a remarkable talent had suddenly arrived from nowhere.
Here, performances like ‘Love For Sale’ that explores Cole Porter’s subversive lyrics for an absorbing 14 minutes, her contemporary take on the old Billie Holiday standard ‘What a Little Moonlight Can Do’ or the devastating scat on ‘Undecided’ reveal her as the real deal, an authentic jazz singer with a flexible style based in the tradition of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Betty Carter, but with a lyricism and dazzle of her own.
Her voice, simultaneously forthright, amused and exasperated, can evoke a succinct ebb-tide wistfulness on slower numbers, charging precisely focused metaphors and finely tuned melodies with passion. Stuart Nicholson