Photograph by John Rogers
It has been amazing to know Dee Dee Bridgewater, and an honor to hear her read my name occasionally in the credits for JazzSet. And what an artistic career! Her latest recording, "Red Earth," a collaboration with Malian musicians, is just another reminder of how truly hip she is.
Long before she was the host of NPR's JazzSet (a program lovingly produced here at WBGO), Dee Dee Bridgewater was a part of our annual New Year's Eve coast-to-coast celebration, Toast of the Nation. From the ballroom at the Grand Hyatt in New York, Bridgewater greeted 1996 on the East Coast with music from her then recent recording, Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver.
And Now for Something Completely Different ...
Since we're headlong into the New Year, and the 2007 listmania has ended - Best Of, Top Ten, Bottom Eleven etc. - permit me to right an historic wrong among jazz critics. Since I'm not one of them.
There's no debating that jazz has become an international phenomenon. However, the stale argument about who's moving the music forward still rages. While Americans can clearly take ownership of our national treasure, it's foreign-born artists like the Austrian pianist, Hans Groiner, who are finding ways to bring improvisation and art music back into the mainstream. Without any further discussion, bear witness to the Most Overlooked Artist, two years running:
If you'd like to hear The Shape of Jazz to Come, check out Hans Groiner Plays Monk on MySpace.
- Josh Jackson