"Here I am in my more natural setting," Dee Dee Bridgewater says as her set begins. Besides starring on the Friday-night show at the 14th annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Bridgewater emceed the entire weekend.
Most of the music in this set comes from Red Earth, Bridgewater's Memphis-to-Mali CD, which she performed with guest musicians from West Africa in the capacious Kennedy Center Concert Hall — and on JazzSet in 2007.
Now, in the smaller Terrace Theater at the 2009 Women in Jazz Festival, pianist and arranger Edsel Gomez has recruited an A-team percussion section of Vince Cherico from New York and Luisito Quintero from Venezuela for the Dee Dee Bridgewater Quintet.
Bassist Ira Coleman is the musical director, featured on the introduction and underpinning to Bridgewater's reading of "Four Women," the Nina Simone portrait of a quartet of African-American women — Aunt Sarah, Safronia, Peaches, Sweet Thing.
Bridgewater then introduces one piece from her Billie Holiday project. In a performance from the spring of 2009, this was practically a premiere. Now "Good Morning, Heartache" is on the album Eleanora Fagin (1915-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee.
We close with "Giggles" from drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and her group at the KC Jazz Club. Carrington is the emcee of the next Women in Jazz Festival, taking place May 20-22, 2010.
Rhonda Hamilton guest-hosts this edition of JazzSet. Dr. Billy Taylor is the artistic director and founder of the Women in Jazz Festival. Kevin Struthers is Director of Jazz with Jean Thill at the Kennedy Center.