Before & After: Dee Dee Bridgewater

IMG_0015Too bad we didn’t video record this listening session. To see Dee Dee Bridgewater’s animated facial expressions and watch her respond, both physically and emotionally, would add an extra layer or two of meaning to the text. I caught up with the peripatetic vocalist (and her little Maltese, Iyo) at her hotel during a tour with the Monterey Festival All-Stars, a few hours before their performance at the Kennedy Center. The actress and three-time Grammy winner continues to host NPR’s Jazz Set while pursuing her intercontinental musical adventures. Her latest recording is the compilation, Midnight Sun, on her own DDB Records.


1. Betty Carter

“Thou Swell” (from Social Call, Columbia). Carter, vocal; Ray Bryant, piano; Wendell Marshall, bass; Jo Jones, drums. Recorded in 1955.

Betty, man. She was so friggin’ underrated. She was a genius. I mean, just the way she heard music and how she could take a simple song like “Thou Swell” and turn it into a masterpiece of the moment. The trio was so tight and she just floats on top of it like a horn. People say they’re inspired by Ella, Sarah and Billie, but she’s my main inspiration. Continue reading

Before & After: Tuck & Patti

For this 2004 JazzTimes B&A, Tuck (Andress) and Patti (Cathcart) sat close to one another on the edge of the bed in their hotel room; Tuck cross-legged, Patti dangling her legs and occasionally touching the floor with her feet in rhythm to the music. In between selections, Patti told stories about nervously meeting Carmen McRae (“my heart)” for the first time, and how Mahalia Jackson “answered all my questions” with her music. We started with a classic to break the ice.

1. Sarah Vaughan
“Sophisticated Lady,” from After Hours (Roulette). Vaughan, vocal; Mundell Lowe, guitar; George Duvivier, bass. Recorded in 1961. Continue reading

Before & After: Jimmy Heath

A bit of my Before & After interview with Jimmy Heath at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, Rockville, MD Feb. 18, 2011. Jimmy talks about Ben Webster, Johnny Hodges, Johnny Griffin, Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstine, the importance of interpreting the lyric and the “three ears” through which we listen to music. Complete article appears in the May 2011 issue of JazzTimes.