13 Songs, 1 Hour, 9 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Though it’s been touted as an exploratory piece of afro-jazz fusion, Dee Dee Bridgewater’s revelatory Red Earth: A Malian Journey is as much a nostalgic love letter to the heroes of early seventies soul-jazz as it is an exercise in cross cultural genre bending. At least half of Red Earth is devoted to ambitious reworkings of socially and musically progressive soul-jazz classics: Nina Simone’s “Four Women”, Gene McDaniels’ “Compared To What”, Wayne Shorter’s lithe “Long Time Ago”, and Bridgewater’s own masterwork “Afro Blue.” Bridgewater brings life to these potentially worn out standards by fleshing out their traditional arrangements with a fearsome array of Malian instrumentalists, who find a way of morphing even the relatively straight ahead “Four Women” into a polyrhythmic free for all. It is this willingness to experiment that makes magic out of the combination of Bridgewater’s relatively traditional, Dinah Washington inspired vocal tones, and the lilting Malian melodies of tunes like “Griots” and “No More.” Despite her stridently American vocal inflections Bridgewater always sounds completely at ease with the serpentine arrangements provided by her accompanists, making Red Earth one of the most refreshingly vital jazz albums of recent years.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Though it’s been touted as an exploratory piece of afro-jazz fusion, Dee Dee Bridgewater’s revelatory Red Earth: A Malian Journey is as much a nostalgic love letter to the heroes of early seventies soul-jazz as it is an exercise in cross cultural genre bending. At least half of Red Earth is devoted to ambitious reworkings of socially and musically progressive soul-jazz classics: Nina Simone’s “Four Women”, Gene McDaniels’ “Compared To What”, Wayne Shorter’s lithe “Long Time Ago”, and Bridgewater’s own masterwork “Afro Blue.” Bridgewater brings life to these potentially worn out standards by fleshing out their traditional arrangements with a fearsome array of Malian instrumentalists, who find a way of morphing even the relatively straight ahead “Four Women” into a polyrhythmic free for all. It is this willingness to experiment that makes magic out of the combination of Bridgewater’s relatively traditional, Dinah Washington inspired vocal tones, and the lilting Malian melodies of tunes like “Griots” and “No More.” Despite her stridently American vocal inflections Bridgewater always sounds completely at ease with the serpentine arrangements provided by her accompanists, making Red Earth one of the most refreshingly vital jazz albums of recent years.

TITLE TIME
5:10
5:47
2:55
5:38
6:47
6:05
6:02
6:02
5:22
4:44
5:15
4:23
5:21

About Dee Dee Bridgewater

One of the best jazz singers of her generation, Dee Dee Bridgewater had to move to France to find herself. She performed in Michigan during the '60s and toured the Soviet Union in 1969 with the University of Illinois Big Band. She sang with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis orchestra (1972-1974) and appeared in the Broadway musical The Wiz (1974-1976). Due to erratic records and a lack of direction, Bridgewater was largely overlooked in the jazz world by the time she moved to France in the '80s. She appeared in the show Lady Day and at European jazz festivals, and eventually formed her own backup group. By the late '80s, Bridgewater's Verve recordings started to alert American listeners to her singing talents. Her 1995 Horace Silver tribute disc (Love and Peace) was a gem, and resulted in the singer extensively touring the U.S, reintroducing herself to American audiences. She found even more success with another tribute album, Dear Ella, which won a Grammy in 1997. This Is New, released in 2002, featured Bridgewater singing Kurt Weill songs, while 2005's J'ai Deux Amours found her tackling French classics. For 2010's Eleanora Fagan (1917-1959): To Billie with Love from Dee Dee, Bridgewater moved from Verve to Decca/Emarcy, and offered her versions of several songs associated with Billie Holiday. She followed this in August 2011 with her sophomore effort for the label: a compilation collection of jazz standards entitled Midnight Sun, with tunes from previous albums ranging from "Angel Eyes" to Horace Silver's "Lonely Woman." In 2014, she produced and appeared on trumpeter Theo Croker's album, Afro Physicist. Bridgewater's 2015 effort, Dee Dee's Feathers, found her paying homage to the history of New Orleans, as well as marking the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. A collaboration between Bridgewater, New Orleans trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, the album also featured appearances from such New Orleans luminaries as keyboardist Dr. John and percussionist Bill Summers. ~ Scott Yanow

  • ORIGIN
    Memphis, TN
  • GENRE
    Jazz
  • BORN
    May 27, 1950

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