Live at Yoshi’s (Verve Music Group)

Dee Dee Bridgewater

Released February 2000

Grammy Nominee for Best Jazz Vocal Album 2001




After two recent projects that found her tipping her hat to legendary jazz figures — LOVE AND PEACE: A TRIBUTE TO HORACE SILVER, and DEAR ELLA, a loving homage to Miss Fitzgerald — vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater turns the spotlight squarely on herself. And if any artist needs more focused exposure it’s Bridgwater, who, despite brushes with fame (a lauded stint with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis band, a Tony-winning performance in “The Wiz”) has somehow eluded the acclaim due her. LIVE AT YOSHI’S finds the Paris-based singer making a triumphant 1998 appearance at the popular Oakland, California, nightspot. As usual, she injects vivacious charm into her performance. Whether funning through “Love for Sale,” stripping James Brown’s funk down to its essentials on “Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine,” or bopping through “Cherokee,” Bridgwater displays the control, daring, and heart that have made her a favorite among jazz cognoscenti. Her musicians are no slouches, either; drummer Ali Jackson, pianist Thierry Eliez, and bassist Thomas Bramerie are a first-rate supporting ensemble, perfectly at ease with Bridgewater’s expansive stylistic approach. Once again this singer’s singer digs in and delivers the goods. She needs to visit her homeland much more often to remind us what we’ve been overlooking.

Track Listing:

1. Undecided (Sid Robin / Sydney Robin / Charlie Shavers) 8:57

2. (I’d Like to Get You on A) Slow Boat to China (Frank Loesser) 6:08

3. Stairway to the Stars (Matty Malneck / Mitchell Parish / Frank Signorelli) 7:56

4. What a Little Moonlight Can Do (Harry Woods) 5:13

5. Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine (James Brown) 2:32

6. Midnight Sun (Sonny Burke / Lionel Hampton / Johnny Mercer) 7:08

7. Cherokee (Ray Noble) 6:14

8. Love for Sale (Cole Porter) 14:05

9. Cotton Tail (Duke Ellington) 9:42


Dee Dee Bridgewater: vocals, scat

Thomas Bramerie: double bass

Ali Jackson: drums, percussion

Thierry Eliez: piano, organ

Recorded April 23 – 25, 1998, at Yoshi’s, Oakland, CA

Produced by Alfredo Cruz, Becca Pulliam and Dee Dee Bridgewater


13 years after her prior in-performance release Live in Paris, Bridgewater has not so much matured or refined her approach as she has gotten bolder. This CD was recorded on what would have been her idol Ella Fitzgerald’s 80th birthday weekend at Yoshi’s in Oakland, CA. She scats in the style of Fitzgeraldon most of these numbers — not quite in the higher range, but comfortably in the middle — while also displaying some of Sarah Vaughan’s more deeply soulful traits. It’s a combination of the two, with a little bawdiness for spice, that has made Bridgewater a prime purveyor of excitable jazz vocalizing these days. The set begins with the Charlie Shavers evergreen “Undecided,” as the singer stops and starts the band on several dimes for the initial lines, exacting choppy phrases and similar scatting á la Fitzgerald on the bridge. In an Ella-cum-Betty Carter mode for “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” Bridgewater waxes frantically on the effect of an obviously full moon turning her into a scatting monster during two different uptempos. Then she brings out the Sarah Vaughan nightshade for “Midnight Sun,” a memorable rendition especially buoyed by Eliez, with rubato intro of bass and piano underneath cat-walking, stealth phrases, stunningly set between the bass and piano lock-step with the vocal line. Then they dive headlong into “Love for Sale” for just over 14 minutes, and more delicate vocals lead to a scat much faster than the band’s rhythm. The finale “Cotton Tail” is a three-ring exercise in scat. This program comprises a side of Bridgewater’s well-known vehicles used for years as a springboard for her formidable talent — unabashed and unafraid.

Michael G. Nastos (AllMusic)