Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Dee Dee Bridgewater: Live at Yoshi’s

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

As anyone who has witnessed her will attest, Dee Dee Bridgewater is a spellbinding live performer. Having distinguished herself in jazz, musical theater and FM disco-funk, she’s become a one-woman talent conglomerate-singer, actress, dancer and mimic. Live at Yoshi’s, cut in April 1998 in Oakland, CA, is her finest recording to date, brimming with energy, warmth and humor. Highlights include a delightful duet interlude with bassist Thomas Bramerie on “Undecided,” Bridgewater’s startling muted trumpet and trombone imitations on “Stairway to the Stars,” an affectionately daffy send-up of Ella Fitzgerald singing a James Brown tune, a dreamy “Midnight Sun” and a freewheeling scat version of “Cotton Tail.” (The CD would be even more effective without the long patter introduction to “Slow Boat to China,” which becomes tiresome after one hearing, and the singer’s vamping of an audience member during the 14-minute “Love for Sale,” which has the crowd in stitches but makes no sense if you can’t see what’s going on.) Bridgewater’s trio, also featuring pianist/organist Thierry Eliez and percussionist Ali Jackson, provide her with the alert, inspiring support. Accomplished as she is, Bridgewater still hasn’t found a stylistic identity of her own. Each of the nine tracks contains echoes of her musical forebearers, notably Ella’s scatting, Sarah Vaughan’s note bending and Carmen McRae’s incisive delivery of lyrics. Perhaps Bridgewater has so generously extended her gifts in so many areas that she hasn’t had time to concentrate on forging her own persona. If she ever does, she’ll become a jazz legend.