NPR's JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater

Sundays 9pm - 10pm
Dee Dee Bridgewater

Noted vocalist and stage performer Dee Dee Bridgewater has hosted NPR's JazzSet since October 2001. Each week Bridgewater takes listeners on a one-hour trip to concert halls, clubs, and festivals around the country to experience the vitality of today's best jazz performances. JazzSet is produced by WBGO 88.3 FM/Newark, New Jersey.

Born in Memphis and raised in Flint, Michigan, Bridgewater moved to New York early in her career and found fast success. Her performance as Glinda the Good Witch in The Wiz on Broadway, Bridgewater won a 1975 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical. While in New York, she sang jazz every Monday night with the popular Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra downtown at the Village Vanguard. Her LP's from that era include Dee Dee Bridgewater, Just Family and Bad for Me, about which a consumer reviewer wrote 30 years later, "This upbeat disco album encapsulates all that was right about the Disco Era."

In the 1980s, Bridgewater settled in Paris. Her performance in Sophisticated Ladies and Lady Day, a one-woman portrayal of Billie Holiday in French, earned her a Sir Laurence Olivier Award nomination.

Bridgewater's self-produced CD, Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver, which was released in 1995, brought her voice back to the United States. Her next album, Dear Ella, dedicated to Ella Fitzgerald, earned her two Grammy Awards in 1998. Subsequently, Bridgewater produced This Is New with music of Kurt Weill and J'ai Deux Amours/Two Loves Have I.

Blues and griot songs came together on her Grammy-nominated 2007 release, Red Earth - A Malian Journey. This album features Bridgewater with her trio; guest vocalists; and a balaphon, kora, flute, percussion and vocal ensemble from West Africa.

Her 2010 release, Eleanora Fagan 1915-1959: To Billie with Love from Dee Dee Bridgewater is more personal. "This album is my way of paying my respect to a vocalist who made it possible for singers like me to carve out a career for ourselves," says Bridgewater. With music from the Billie Holiday songbook, Bridgewater's style ranges from an upbeat, rhythm-strong "Lady Sings the Blues" to the stark ballad of an American lynching, "Strange Fruit."

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7:03am

Thu November 22, 2012
JazzSet

Gretchen Parlato, The Cookers On JazzSet

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 2:19 pm

Gretchen Parlato performing at the Caramoor Jazz Festival in Katonah, N.Y. July 28.
Gabe Palacio Courtesy of the Caramoor Festival

Ninety years ago near the village of Katonah, N.Y., art lovers Walter and Lucie Rosen bought Caramoor, a wooded estate, and built a home for their collection of painting and sculpture. Every room was a gallery, including their favorite, the Music Room; after they lost their only son in World War II, they presented a small concert series there to honor him. So began the transformation of Caramoor from a private home to an arts center and treasure for Westchester County, north of New York City.

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3:57pm

Thu November 15, 2012
JazzSet

Billy Childs Quartet On JazzSet

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 9:33 am

Billy Childs.
Courtesy of the artist

It's New Year's Eve at The Blue Whale, a "live jazz + art space" in the Little Tokyo section of downtown Los Angeles. Founded in 2009 by singer Joon Lee, this is a listening room. There's food at the bar, poetry (Rumi!) on the ceiling, and wall-to-wall people. The Blue Whale has been sold out for days, and the phone keeps ringing off the hook because everybody wants to be on the air, cheering for Billy Childs live on NPR's Toast of the Nation.

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11:50am

Fri November 9, 2012
JazzSet

Dee Dee Bridgewater On JazzSet

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 2:20 pm

Dee Dee Bridgewater (right) smiles big with pianist Edsel Gomez.
Richard Conde

Dee Dee Bridgewater's smile says it all: she's singing this week on JazzSet from the Caramoor Jazz Festival.

All summer, Caramoor presents chamber music, opera, Latin music, a resident orchestra and more — rain or shine. And it did rain in 2012, though the audience stayed dry under the Venetian Theater roof with Bridgewater and her awesome band.

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3:01pm

Thu October 25, 2012
JazzSet

Lewis Nash Quintet, Kurt Elling On JazzSet

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 2:23 pm

Drummer Lewis Nash performs at the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival.
Erik Jacobs for NPR

There are three stages at the Newport Jazz Festival. At least two are always running simultaneously. Given the surfeit of options, it's rare to hear a complete set. The question begins to nag: Should be we somewhere else? And away you go, leaving a work in progress to make sure you don't miss one getting underway.

But sometimes if you choose a spot on the lawn and stay put, the juxtaposition of two bands delivers a fine festival experience. Sunday morning, August 5, 2012, on the Quad Stage is such a time.

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2:15pm

Thu October 18, 2012
JazzSet

John Ellis, Darcy James Argue On JazzSet

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 2:27 pm

Saxophonist John Ellis (center) performs with Matt Perrine (left) on sousaphone at the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival.
Erik Jacobs for NPR

As we re-release these two sets from Newport, saxophonist John Ellis (leader of one, player in the other) is leading workshops in Portugal and Italy. Darcy James Argue has released a studio recording of Brooklyn Babylon, and his Secret Society tied with the Maria Schneider Orchestra for the Big Band of 2013 in the just-out DownBeat Critics Poll.

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3:32pm

Thu October 4, 2012
JazzSet

Bill Charlap And Renee Rosnes On JazzSet

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 2:41 pm

Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes.
Courtesy of the artist

From their spirited night of Chick Corea music alone, it's clear how Renee Rosnes and Bill Charlap love to play amongst horns and a rhythm section. Yet when they face each other at two pianos, with a wink and a nod, they do it all themselves.

Now on JazzSet, it's Rosnes on the left, Charlap on the right and — in Charlap's words — "a unique sound that is the sum of both of us."

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2:54pm

Thu September 27, 2012
JazzSet

Catherine Russell, Virginia Mayhew On JazzSet

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 9:34 am

Catherine Russell performs at the Mary Lou Williams Festival.
Margot Schulman Courtesy of the Kennedy Center

Catherine Russell is a lady born to music. Her father, Luis Russell (1902-63), was Louis Armstrong's orchestra leader beginning in the mid-1930s. Her mother, Carline Ray, is a bassist, singer, great all-around musician and a member of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, the 1940s all-woman band that swung as hard as the men. "This Daughter of Jazz Is One Cool Cat," reads the headline of Nat Hentoff's profile for The Wall Street Journal.

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4:09pm

Thu September 6, 2012
JazzSet

Branford Marsalis Quartet On JazzSet

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 9:36 am

The Branford Marsalis Quartet.
Eric Ryan Anderson

From January 1992 to September 2001, Branford Marsalis set the JazzSet pace, hosting 39 new shows a year (now we do 26) from the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band; festivals in Iowa City, Telluride, Pasadena, Mount Hood, Montreal and Brevard, N.C.; the new music festival in Groningen, the Netherlands, and the Havana Jazz Festival in Cuba; clubs from Yoshi's in California to Sculler's and the Regattabar in Boston. WGBH producer Steve Schwartz sent us lots of Boston sets during that first decade, all of them much appreciated.

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2:37pm

Thu August 9, 2012
JazzSet

Gabriel Alegria And Gerald Clayton On JazzSet

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 3:10 pm

The Litchfield Jazz Festival leads off with a weeks-long camp for high-school students and New York's finest musicians on the faculty, then climaxes with a two-day festival. This year it's August 11-12 in Goshen, Conn., but here we have two sets from the 2010 festival, featuring two groups with young leaders.

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3:40pm

Thu August 2, 2012
JazzSet

Jane Bunnett And Chihiro Yamanaka On JazzSet

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 3:48 pm

Jane Bunnett (left) and Candido perform at the Kennedy Center during the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival.
Margot Schulman Courtesy of the Kennedy Center

Chihiro Yamanaka and Jane Bunnett come to the Kennedy Center from Japan and Canada, respectively, and each has a compelling story.

Jane Bunnett is from Toronto, yet for more than 30 years, she's championed Cuban music and musicians. She's made dozens of trips to the island, studying and working, bringing instruments to schoolchildren, and inviting players to return to Canada with her and her husband, trumpeter Larry Cramer.

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1:12pm

Thu July 19, 2012
JazzSet

Amina Figarova Sextet, Avishai Cohen's Triveni On JazzSet

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 10:16 am

Amina Figarova performs at the 2010 Newport Jazz Festival.
Erik Jacobs for NPR

As a child in Azerbaijan, Amina Figarova loved the piano at first sight. She would arrange all her dolls around her and play for them. "Nobody could stop me," she told an interviewer at All About Jazz. "I would sit and play and play." Figarova studied classical music and heard jazz at home, especially Herbie Hancock.

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12:56pm

Thu July 12, 2012
JazzSet

Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet, Trio Da Paz On JazzSet

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 10:39 am

Rez Abbasi performs at the Newport Jazz Festival.
Erik Jacobs for NPR

We're in a guitar world, from Pakistan to Brazil and from steel strings to nylon, as the Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet and Trio da Paz play in turn at the Newport Jazz Festival.

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12:58pm

Thu July 5, 2012
JazzSet

Gretchen Parlato, Conrad Herwig On JazzSet

Gretchen Parlato performs at the Quad Stage during the Newport Jazz Festival.
Erik Jacobs for NPR.

At the Newport Jazz Festival, we're visiting the Quad and Harbor Stages, where the first rows of audience sit snug up to the performer. With her understated style, love of the lyric and freedom, Gretchen Parlato makes that closeness work. Everyone leans in and listens.

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2:40pm

Thu June 28, 2012
JazzSet

Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom On JazzSet

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 3:19 pm

Allison Miller leads Boom Tic Boom at the Kennedy Center during the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival.
Margot Schulman Courtesy of the Kennedy Center

Allison Miller has a jazz portfolio with Dr. Lonnie Smith, Steven Bernstein and a host of others, as well as a pop career with Brandi Carlile, Ani DiFranco and Natalie Merchant. She's a U.S.

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1:21pm

Thu June 21, 2012
JazzSet

Vanguard Jazz Orchestra On JazzSet

Originally published on Thu June 21, 2012 2:32 pm

With 46 years under its belt, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra plays the music of Bob Brookmeyer and Thad Jones at the Village Vanguard.
John Rogers for NPR johnrogersnyc.com

It started in 1966 as a three-week agreement among composer and conductor Thad Jones, drummer Mel Lewis and Max Gordon, the proprietor of The Village Vanguard in New York. And it continues, gloriously.

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