During her recent engagement at the Blue Note, it became evident Dee Dee Bridgewater is the most dynamite female jazz vocalist of this century. She is the epitome of constant motion, an animated human instrument moving as she riffs a scat with the saxophonist or trumpeter, or doing a few dance moves as the pianist runs a few crescendos.
She sang everything from Oscar Brown’s lyrics of “Afro Blue” to Abbey Lincoln’s ballad “The Music Is the Magic,” which quickly intensified with blurring horns and a deep drum. Bridgewater held on to that last note like an enticing, sweet secret.
She was accompanied by her trusted band Dark Funk, a quintet of young guns featuring the trumpeter Theo Crocker, saxophonist Erin Hall, bassist Eric Wheeler, pianist Michael King, drummer Casa Paranske and guest guitarist Gabe Durand, her son.
When Bridgewater performs, she wears her acting persona to the stage, having won a Tony Award for her performance in “The Wiz” and rave reviews for her one woman show as Billie Holiday in “Lady Day,” winner of the 2014 AUDELCO Award.
Whether she is fronting a small band, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra or as during her early days in the 1970s, the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, Bridgewater leads the swinging charge with potent jazz mixed with her own ingredients of blues and soul.
The three-time Grammy winner will perform at the Blue Note with an all-star lineup for James Moody’s 90th birthday celebration March 24 through March 29. Musicians featured on various nights will include James Carter, Jon Faddis, Najee, Russell Malone, John Lee, Jan Siegel, Roy Hargrove, Antonio Hart and Wallace Roney. All proceeds will benefit the James Moody Scholarship for Newark Youth. For a complete listing of musicians, visit bluenote.net.
The seasoned Trio 3, with the jazz forerunners bassist Reggie Workman, saxophonist Oliver Lake and drummer Andrew Cyrille, will bring their exploratory traditional repertoire into the Village Vanguard March 24 to March 29, with two sets at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
Although the musicians have been categorized as avant-garde, Workman noted, “Together our music is a combination of traditional and futurist music, of where we came from and where we are going. When we come together, it’s a celebration of our artistic endeavors.”
Trio 3 is a collective of innovative musicians who equally contribute to the group. Lake, Workman and Cyrille all write music for their performances and recordings. Together, they have recorded eight CDs. To add another personality, they also recorded with pianist Geri Allen.
For this upcoming Vanguard engagement, they will play their original tunes as well as a standard or two that you may not recognize after their creative arrangements. As the Vanguard celebrates its 80th anniversary, Trio 3 are celebrating their 27th year as a musical collaborative.
Trio 3 has not performed at the Village Vanguard as a unit in some time. For Workman, the storied basement holds memories dating back to 1961, when he was a member of John Coltrane’s quartet recording “Live at the Village Vanguard” sessions.
“Going back to the Vanguard is like walking into a time capsule. There was a lot of energy then from Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders and Alberta Hunter was around the corner,” said Workman. “Every neighborhood had its own thing like the African society, music and sounds came from different neighborhoods.”
Lake, a co-founder of the World Saxophone Quartet, with David Murray, Julius Hemphill and Hamiet Bluiett, will be performing at the Vanguard for the first time. “I am very excited about being a part of the Vanguard’s history,” said Lake. “I am happy that we are playing as a trio. We usually have a piano.”
Cyrille has played the Vanguard with a variety of musicians over the years. He had a long stay with pianist Cecil Taylor and performed drum duos with the genius Milford Graves.
Workman balances his time between music and working full time as a tenured faculty member at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. He also instituted a program at the Harlem School of the Arts called the African-American Youth Legacy Project.
“We are trying to make sure young students are exposed to the music,” stated Workman. “As contemporary and futuristic modern musicians, we have to be more diligent when it comes to this music called jazz and young people because it is important. “ The African-American Youth Legacy Band is also a part of this program.
Workman was recently awarded a grant by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council for an end of year release with Trio 3 (Treyvon Suite) and Vijay Iyer. He continually works on grants with creative collaborator Francina Connors.
Workman hasn’t recorded a record since 1996. He is way overdue and moving toward that goal. He has an idea for a new group, Reggie Workman Workz.
The New School Inside/Outside Improvisation Workshop will feature Workman and pianist Kirk Nurock in April. The workshop is a demonstration of their musical explorations.
For Trio 3 reservations for the Village Vanguard, call 212-255-4037 or email email@example.com.