Written by Grant Jackson from NPR
On this episode of Piano Jazz, host Marian McPartland welcomes vocalist and JazzSet host Dee Dee Bridgewater for a first-rate set of tunes by Duke Ellington, Kurt Weill, Antonion Carlos Jobim, the Gershwins and more.
Bridgewater was born into a respected musical family. Her father, a trumpeter, taught music during the school year and played with Dinah Washington during the summer. Her mother was a great fan of Ella Fitzgerald and introduced her daughter to Fitzgerald’s recordings.
Bridgewater toured the Soviet Union in 1969 as part of the University of Illinois Big Band, and moved to New York City shortly thereafter with her then-husband, trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater. In 1970, she made a phenomenal Big Apple debut with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band. Throughout the 1970s, she performed and recorded with a who’s-who of jazz musicians, including Sonny Rollins, Stanley Clarke, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Roy Haynes, Cecil McBee, Roland Kirk and Frank Foster. She released several albums under her own name and launched a Broadway career highlighted by a role in The Wiz.
In the 1980s, Bridgewater adopted Paris as her hometown, performing on television and at concerts, clubs and festivals throughout Europe. Beginning in the late ’80s and throughout the ’90s, Bridgewater saw her popularity in America rise on the heels of a string of releases on Verve Records.
Bridgewater has won a Tony and multiple Grammys, including a 2011 award for Best Jazz Vocal Album for Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee. Bridgewater maintains a busy schedule of touring, and continues to host JazzSet each week.
Originally broadcast Nov. 11, 2003.