Dee Dee Bridgewater: Dear Ella

Dee Dee Bridgewater has been so close for so long. The talent and the potential were there from her early outings with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, and even in some of her pop flirtations (viz. The Wiz). But from her base of operations outside Paris, she has embarked on a series of tribute albums reminiscent in their way of the “Songbook” recordings that finally secured Ella Fitzgerald’s place in the hearts of a broader segment of American dreamers. So it is fitting that Bridgewater follows up last year’s successful tribute to Horace Silver with this one to Ella. And it works: Dee Dee is in fine form, strong of voice and with that wry sense of the world that allows her to laugh with the lyrics she is interpreting. The band includes the likes of Milt Jackson, on vibes; the magisterial Ray Brown on bass; Lou Levy on piano; Kenny Burrell on guitar; and a la batterie, Dee Dee’s drummer for the past decade, Andre Ceccarelli. Charts were contributed by Levy, Slide Hampton, Cecil Bridgewater and John Clayton.