A Tribute To Abbey Lincoln On JazzSet Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves and Cassandra Wilson sing from the Abbey Lincoln songbook.

Backstage at the Kennedy Center tribute concert to Abbey Lincoln, left to right: Dee Dee Bridgewater, Terri Lyne Carrington, Cassandra Wilson, Dianne Reeves. Becca Pulliam/WBGO hide caption

toggle caption
Becca Pulliam/WBGO

JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater

A Tribute To Abbey Lincoln On JazzSetWBGO

A Tribute To Abbey Lincoln On JazzSet

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/145186772/263135151" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Anna Marie Wooldridge, Abbey Lincoln, Aminata Moseka: singer, actress, composer, militant. They are all one woman.

At the end, singing "Freedom Day," the ensemble brought imagination to bear, with music by Max Roach and lyrics by Oscar Brown Jr., sung by Abbey Lincoln on the 1960 LP We Insist: Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite. "Whisper, listen, whisper, listen," slaves and ancestors learn they are free. The audience rose out of our seats. It's our finale, as well.

Born in Chicago in 1930, Abbey Lincoln was raised in rural Michigan and went to a one-room school. Her siblings (there were 11) remembered that as a girl, she taught herself piano and was always making up songs. Young Lincoln performed in cabarets from Hawaii to Havana, and acted in Hollywood. In 1957, she moved to New York and joined a circle of artists committed to jazz and civil rights. Then, in the 1970s, while living in Los Angeles and taking care of her mother, Lincoln began to write. From the late 1980s almost until her death in 2010, she recorded albums that introduced, piece by piece, in her own voice, the Abbey Lincoln songbook.

Toward the end, Lincoln asked her friend Dee Dee Bridgewater to help keep that songbook alive. On May 20, 2011, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., with Dianne Reeves and Cassandra Wilson, Bridgewater began to fulfill her promise. Terri Lyne Carrington is musical director on the drums.

"Each singer displayed a distinct personality: Bridgewater with her raspy shouts and engaging theatricality; Reeves with her unerring musicianship and remarkable range; Wilson with her dusky tone and insinuating delivery," Mike Joyce wrote in The Washington Post. "When the singers joined voices, sharing harmonies and trading verses, they sometimes conjured the sound of a marvelously compact reed section, robust and reverberant."

The lyrics show Lincoln's flexible perspective. She's on the ground in "The River," racing streaming down the freeway in a river of cars. She's looking up at "Bird alone, flying high," and resting on a cosmic perch in "Wholly Earth." And she's her own woman throughout. Reeves notes Lincoln's emotional range runs from sweet and encouraging to brutally honest, as in "And It's Supposed to Be Love" with its description of intimate violence: "Body slam you to the ground / Messaging a chill / Curses make your head go 'round / Brings a certain thrill."

Set List
  • "The River"

Dianne Reeves

  • "Bird Alone"
  • "And It's Supposed to Be Love"

Dee Dee Bridgewater

  • "Wholly Earth"
  • "Another World"

Cassandra Wilson

  1. "Throw It Away"
  2. "Talkin' to the Sun"

Ensemble

  • "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" (poem by Maya Angelou)
  • "Freedom Day" (Roach, Brown)

*All songs by Abbey Lincoln unless otherwise noted.

Credits

Recording and Surround Sound mix by Duke Markos.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Ernie Andrews Courtesy of HighNote Records hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of HighNote Records

Ernie Andrews On Piano Jazz

Hear the vocalist bring his own special mix of energy, drama and humor to this 1998 episode with host Marian McPartland.

Ernie Andrews On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/549414757/549414978" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Patrice Rushen Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Patrice Rushen On Piano Jazz

Hear the songwriter and master keyboardist perform with host Marian McPartland on this 1987 episode.

Patrice Rushen On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/545865051/545871170" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Dennis Manuel/Courtesy of the artist

Aww Yeah, Summertime — With The Robert Glasper Experiment

This special summer festival episode features a clever synthesis of hip-hop, R&B and soul, recorded live across two music festivals in New York City.

Aww Yeah, Summertime — With The Robert Glasper Experiment

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/542780066/542781768" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Bill Charlap and his mother, Sandy Stewart. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Sandy Stewart And Bill Charlap On Piano Jazz

Hear the cabaret singer and her pianist son bring a rare combination of swing and sophistication to a session with host Marian McPartland.

Sandy Stewart And Bill Charlap On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/535960111/535960769" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Marian McPartland and Eddie Gomez in 1993. R.J. Capak/Piano Jazz Archives hide caption

toggle caption R.J. Capak/Piano Jazz Archives

Eddie Gomez On Piano Jazz

The Grammy-winning bassist's sense of swing shines through on this session with Marian McPartland, who joins in on "My Foolish Heart" and "All Of You."

Eddie Gomez On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/533993916/533995152" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Joshua Redman on saxophone, Scott Colley on bass, Brian Blade on drums and Ron Miles on cornet perform at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Lawrence Sumulong/Jazz at Lincoln Center hide caption

toggle caption Lawrence Sumulong/Jazz at Lincoln Center

Still Dreaming: Joshua Redman's Tribute To A Tribute

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

The saxophonist opens up about the legacy of his father, Dewey Redman, and performs with Still Dreaming — his own nod to the quartet his dad once helped convene as an homage to Ornette Coleman.

Terence Blanchard is the guest on this week's Piano Jazz. Henry Adebonojo/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Henry Adebonojo/Courtesy of the artist

Terence Blanchard On Piano Jazz

The Grammy award-winning trumpeter and composer joins Marian McPartland to perform standards like "I Thought About You" with bassist Gary Mazzaroppi.

Terence Blanchard On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/530240350/530241963" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top