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NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater and pianist Bill Charlap to kick off Moody Festival

Bill Charlap and Dee Dee Bridgewater started collaborating in 2019
Courtesy of the artists
Bill Charlap and Dee Dee Bridgewater started collaborating in 2019

NEA Jazz Master, Grammy Award-winning singer and Tony Award winner Dee Dee Bridgewater and acclaimed pianist Bill Charlap will open the 12th Annual TD James Moody Jazz Festival on November 3 at NJPAC.

WBGO's Doug Doyle spoke with Dee Dee Bridgewater about the upcoming concert and what the late great Newark-raised saxophonist James Moody meant to her.

"I always loved James. I had many wonderful occasions to work with him. We just always had a ball. I love Linda (Moody). I was in San Diego and hooked up with Linda. I try and keep in touch with Linda so I know what's going on in her world. The thing that I loved about Moody was he was always so positive. It didn't matter what the situation was and his music just had a joyfulness to it."

Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater

Bridgewater also says working with Bill Charlap over the last several years has been magical.

"I think our first dates were in November of 2019 and then the pandemic happened. We started back up in 2021 and it feels like an old hat that I put on. We are quite comfortable with each other. I think we have something quite special with this duo because it's really a musical collaboration with equal parts of voice and piano. An interesting vocabulary has developed between the two of us."

NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater
Rachel Murray
NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater

Dee Dee says Bill has convinced her to do a ballad for their encores. That's not the norm for the energetic singer.

"Bill is so convincing. Bill could charm a snake. When we've been doing encores, it's generally been a ballad which goes so against the way I love to end shows."

You can SEE the entire interview with Dee Dee Bridgewater here.

This year’s festival (Nov. 3-19, 2023), sponsored by TD Bank, showcases both legendary and emerging artists exploring jazz through the lens of Afrofuturism, Latin music, dance, soul, and more.

You can check out the lineup here for the TD James Moody Jazz Festival.

Doug Doyle has been News Director at WBGO since 1998 and has taken his department to new heights in coverage and recognition. Doug and his staff have received more than 250 awards from organizations like PRNDI (now PMJA), AP, New York Association of Black Journalists, Garden State Association of Black Journalists and the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists.