The Jazzcat

Dee Dee Bridgewater at Yoshis with "J'ai Deux Amours"

by on Oct.30, 2005, under News


Yoshis is such a beautiful environment to see and hear

music. I had dinner in the restaurant prior to the performance and I find that

having dinner and then going to enjoy the show is the best way to experience a

wonderful evening of music.


All of today’s and yesterday's legends grace the walls of

Yoshis. Illuminated on the wall is one of the many large, gorgeous black and white

photographs taken from performances here at Yoshis. The one in the spotlight tonight is of Dee Dee

Bridgewater. I ran into her drummer at the Waterfront hotel across the way the

day before. His name is Minino Garay and he is from Paris, which reminds me of the importance of

this project that blends French song with American music and vice versa. What

is so important, you say? Well, think in terms of humans, music and cultures all

relating together. The jazz scene is very different here than it is in Europe. When American musicians and artists travel

abroad and play, their craft is embraced and the arrival of their performance

is awaited. Americans don’t always show the same enthusiasm, probably due to

lack of exposure of the European artists on this continent.


Dee Dee Bridgewater has two loves: America

and Paris. Both

have made a significant contribution to the history of music, which is why, I would

imagine, that Dee Dee has released the new CD “J’ai Deux Amours”, in both French and English; by players from both countries–to unify the music, the

musicians, the composers, the lyricist and the people who made the music rise

to fame. On accordion is Marc Berthoumieux , Louis Winsberg on lead guitar, Ira

Coleman on bass and Minino Garay on drums and percussion.


Here in America,

we are not usually accustomed to hearing the sound or the use of the accordion in

jazz music. She said, “You all are a brave bunch, because what you are about to be

inundated with is a lot of French.” The accordion replaced the piano in the

band, adding to a distinct blend that smells, sounds and tastes like it's roasted to



Dee Dee is so

delightful and full of spirit, music and love, you can’t help but smile

in her presence. The musicians have come up with

the musical ideas and arrangement of the tunes which are quite

familiar, but

whose true historical origins were about to be revealed!


The first piece and title of the album, “J’ai Deux Amours”, was

written for Josephine Baker. Did you know that “I Wish You Love” was originally

written in French? “Beyond the Sea” was made popular by Bobby Darin, but the

French version was the original. All of these facts and many more little delectable

treats were shared by Dee Dee to help us realize how close the two worlds really are!


Dee Dee, like most of the jazz community and those who love

jazz in general, received the news that our great and beloved Shirley Horn had just

passed. She was obviously deeply affected by the loss, but the brilliance and

personality of her own presence on stage shined through like a prism!


Dee Dee looked like a sweet, juicy Georgia

peach in a flawless dress

that she said had a bead or two that was missing. She was communicating


all of the women in the audience about dress experiences when she said,

“This is the last dress that I am going to buy because I am tired of

the beads

falling off.” All of the men know that this isn’t a true statement

because she

looks so good in them!


One of my favorite albums is “After Hours” by Nina Simone, but

she does a piece called, “Ne Me Quitte Pas”,

(“If You Go Away”) from her album “I

Put a Spell on You” that truly displays a woman’s pain. This is such a

heartfelt and very emotional tune and Nina sings it straight from the

core. Dee Dee

pays tribute to her and performs it like a theatrical play. As a matter


fact, every time I see Dee Dee perform, I am not just watching a jazz


but a musical performance artist. She has a very powerful stage

presence that

you don’t get to experience with many other singers. Watching her

perform is like

being transformed into a French playhouse. Her sensual and charming


has always come across as fun and playful. She makes you feel

comfortable and longing

to know her more intimately.


On stage she whips out this gorgeous Japanese fan, which is

perfectly functional for the room temperature and functionally perfect for

the performance. Her attitude, posture and sound make her a star on an unparalleled

stage. The accordion player and Dee Dee’s sleek, sensual saunter make love in

such a wonderful manner on “My Man”. Of course, a tune made popular by Billie

Holiday who Dee Dee had the honor of playing for two years in a theatrical

show called, “Lady Day”. Her impression is on hit!


“If You Love Me, Really Love Me”, done in English and

French, like most of the tunes in her set, was a tribute to Shirley. It was

done as a duet with guitar and vocals, a serenade of love, honor, respect and

appreciation. One phrase in the song sounded just like Shirley would sing it. It

gave me the sense of an everlasting universal presence of the spirit of Shirley



On the CD, Dee Dee selected French songs that are identified

by the melodies, but at the same time, give praise to the American

artist who made them popular. Claude Nougaro was

one composer who always put French lyrics to jazz standards to help promote

and keep jazz alive abroad.


Dee Dee brings the funk and hip-hop, be-boy phrasing to the

piece “Girl Talk”. She opens the floor for her drummer Minino, who gets down and

uses the audience’s syncopated clap as a part of his drum and percussive

display. He and Dee Dee have fun playing on stage and making each other laugh. This

brings a smile and warmth to everyone in the crowd. She closes by telling us to

“Stay in the Light”. With a torch that shines as bright as she does, there will

always be!





LeRoy Downs


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