Winner of three Grammy® Awards, a Tony® Award and France’s Victoire de la Musique, a UN Goodwill Ambassador, 2017 NEA Jazz Master, as well as a producer, head of a record label, vocalist – and undoubtedly a legend in the world of jazz – this is Dee Dee Bridgewater. She’s also the star who opens the SFJAZZ 2017-18 season next week, with four fabulous programs – each with a different theme.
With a mother who played her songs by Ella Fitzgerald, and a father (Matthew Garrett) who was a trumpeter, music teacher and jazz DJ, Dee Dee Bridgewater has been surrounded by the sound of jazz almost all her life, and has been spreading the love of it to millions since she first started performing during her teenage years. She made a remarkable debut in New York in 1970, with one of the leading orchestras at the time, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band, which led to appearances and recordings with jazz greats such as Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Max Roach and Roland Kirk.
In 1974 she eagerly took the opportunity of performing on Broadway, as Glinda the Good Witch in The Wiz – the role for which she won her Tony® Award – and which led to opportunities to perform in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Paris and London. She was nominated for an Olivier Award for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in Stephen Stahl’s Lady Day, and took leading roles in shows such as Sophisticated Ladies – based on the music of Duke Ellington – Black Ballad, Carmen Jazz, and became the first black actress to star as Sally Bowles in Cabaret. She also took over the presentation of NPR’s Jazzset from Branford Marsalis in 2001, hosting the show until its final performance in 2014.
Dee Dee Bridgewater, says The Guardian “has a technique and musicality that bests most performers of her generation, and her understanding of the ‘great American songbook’ makes pretenders pale in comparison”.
On opening night at SFJAZZ next Thursday, Dee Dee Bridgewater celebrates the centennial of Ella Fitzgerald. In this performance, she pays tribute to Fitzgerald with a selection of numbers from her 1967 album, Dear Ella, which she dedicated to the ‘First Lady of Song’, and which won two GRAMMYs® – for Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best Instrumental Arrangement – in 1998.
This performance, in the Miner Auditorium on Thursday, September 7, is already sold out, but – as always – it’s worth checking on the day for returns. More information can be found on the SFJAZZ website .
In Friday’s performance, Dee Dee Bridgewater features the music of Horace Silver, paying tribute to the composer of some of the most distinctive and enduring pieces in the jazz repertoire. Her links to Silver actually go back to the early 1970s when trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater – at that time her husband – started playing in Silver’s working band. For this concert, she performs a selection of songs which were included in her 2005 GRAMMY®-nominated album, Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver.
Dee Dee Bridgewater pays tribute to Horace Silver in the Miner Auditorium on Friday, September 8, and tickets can be reserved on the SFJAZZ website.
In Saturday’s performance – Memories of Memphis – Dee Dee Bridgewater celebrates the release of her new Okeh Records album, Memphis … Yes, I’m Ready. This city, her hometown, has a special place in her heart, and on this album she performs the music which her father played as a DJ on WDIA radio – soul, blues and R&B classics which were made famous by the likes of B B King, Bobby Blue Bland and Otis Redding – music that will always be associated with Memphis.
Dee Dee Bridgewater recalls Memories of Memphis on Saturday, September 9, in the Miner Auditorium at SFJAZZ. For tickets and more information, visit the SFJAZZ website.
In her final performance next week, Dee Dee Bridgewater presents the Music of Josephine Baker, the 1920s star to whom she paid tribute on her 2005 album J’ai deux Amours. Like Baker, Bridgewater found stardom in Paris during the more than 10 years in which she lived there – from 1986 to the late 1990s – as a champion of jazz in France, before returning home. On Sunday evening, she brings to SFJAZZ some of the songs made popular by Josephine Baker, including those of other stars of Baker’s era – like Édith Piaf, Mistinguett and Charles Trenet.
Dee Dee Bridgewater sings the Music of Josephine Baker in the Miner Auditorium on Sunday, September 10. For tickets and more information, visit the SFJAZZ website.
Dee Dee Bridgewater is at SFJAZZ from September 7 to 10, backed by Arthur Edmaiston on tenor saxophone, Marc Franklin on trumpet, guitarist Charlton Johnson, Farindell Smith on piano and organ, bassist Barry Campbell, and James Sexton on drums.