Dee Dee Bridgewater, jazz singer for the ages, arrives at Vancouver’s Chan Centre along with Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, this Saturday evening, February 27. They are on tour as part of an homage to the city of New Orleans on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The main focus of the music for the evening is the Bridgewater and Mayfield collaboration, an album called Dee Dee’s Feathers.
Bridgewater is not big on the word “legacy”, but admits it does apply, at least to some degree. She has, over the years, performed with Horace Silver, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Dizzy Gillespie, and Max Roach. But, she says, “I don’t have a legacy, as you might think of it. I am building something, like a legacy, but in the larger context of a larger jazz legacy. I have been a professional jazz singer for 45 years now, but my set lists are always varied, to be honest. So there is no specific set of songs I would call my legacy.”
This is a key to her continued great success as an artist. “I keep the music as fresh as possible: The appeal is broader that way, too.” But it is not only that keeping Bridgewater vibrant and creative. “Working with young musicians, like Irvin and his band, keeps things fresh,” she says. “It is wonderful to watch them grow as musicians.” The iconic, great Horace Silver once travelled to Paris, where Bridgewater lived and worked for 23 years, to play for one of her recordings. “Once the musicians got over the intimidation factor of having one of the true giants of jazz in the studio with them, things went fine,” she recalls. “Horace Silver was so gracious, so professional. He just said, ‘I am your guest. This is your record.’”
She is frank about how a concert works. “When I am performing live, I try to involve the audience, share with them, let the music speak to them,” Bridgewater says. “It is also about communication with the musicians onstage. I concentrate on that individual evening, which is always unique, different than the others.” This Saturday is a fantastic opportunity to experience the great Bridgewater, and to witness something unique, firsthand.
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