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Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee

4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 2, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Over the course of a multifaceted career that has spanned four decades, Dee Dee Bridgewater has risen to the top tier of today's jazz vocalists, putting her own unique spin on standards as well as taking intrepid leaps of faith in re-envisioning jazz classics. For her latest recording, Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee, Bridgewater honors an iconic jazz figure, Billie Holiday, who died tragically at the age of 44 a half-century.

From the Artist

"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, who performed the role of Holiday in the triumphant theatrical production, Lady Day--based on the singer's autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues--staged in Paris and London in 1986 and 1987. "I wanted Eleanora Fagan to be something different: more modern and a celebration, not a [recording] that goes dark and sullen and maudlin. I wanted the album to be joyful."
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 2, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EmArcy
  • ASIN: B002YCGLAK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,034 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
IMHO, 2005's "Jai Deux Amours" and 2007's "Red Earth" were two of the best vocal jazz recordings of the oughts. Although the two recordings were very different (a genuine French European feel and an undeniable Malian, third-world presence, respectively), both well established Dee Dee Bridgewater as a vocal jazz force, approaching living legend status. What could she possibly do for an encore?

What she has done is mine a field mined many, many times before - a tribute to Eleanora Fagan, aka Billie Holiday. That is a tricky thing to do. Any such recording invites comparisons to the best of such recordings and one of the best in history, Carmen McRae's "Sings Lover Man and Other Songs of Billie Holiday." To do a Billie tribute and receive 5 stars from me requires a recording that approaches Carmen's masterpiece.

Well, hush my mouth and call me stupid, but this recording in fact approaches Carmen's masterpiece.

And while my initial reaction is one of surprise, it makes a great deal of sense.

Probably the two most theatrical of all jazz singers were/are Carmen McRae and Dee Dee Bridgewater. To deliver material such as "Strange Fruit," "God Bless the Child," and "Lover Man" takes, first and foremost, a terrific actress who can not only get the words and the music, but can get the feel like Lady Day could. And Carmen and Dee Dee are those actresses/singers.

But the measure of a great jazz singer is how she interplays with the instrumentalists - indeed, how she inspires the instrumentalists. Here, Ms. Bridgewater sings with one of the most professional quartet of instrumentalists currently imaginable: Lewis Nash (drums), Christian McBride (bass), James Carter (saxes, flute and bass clarinet), and arranger Edsel Gomez (piano).
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Dee Dee Bridgewater is a fabulous singer and doesn't miss when she puts out some music. This one is in stride! While I don't find it as good as "Red Earth", it is a very good album. The musicians are superb and Dee Dee sings it up.
Sit back and enjoy.
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Format: Audio CD
Dee Dee Bridgewater is truly a great artist, and her tribute to Billie Holiday is excellent, full of respect. Buy it with confidence.
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Dee Dee Bridgewater was voted #3 in the category of Female Vocalists during Downbeat's 59th Annual Critics Poll along with Cassandra Wilson (#1), Dianne Reeves (#2), Abbey Lincoln (#4), Roberta Gambarini (#5), Luciana Souza (#6), Diana Krall (#7), to name the top seven from among the 15 winners. Ms. Bridgewater certainly deserves it. I have enjoyed most of her remarkable recordings and was so happy when a friend of mine gifted me with this Grammy-winning-tribute-album for my birthday in 2010. This album won the Grammy for "Best Jazz Vocal Album" in 2011.

Dee Dee Bridgewater can exceptionally deliver songs in any style whether she's celebrating Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday, but she's even much better singing in her very own fashion--the Dee Dee Bridgewater's inimitable, impressive, one-and-only style of singing. Her most superlative, beyond compare renditions of songs as my memory recalls are "Midnight Sun" and "Speak Low." In this tribute album to Billie Holiday, "Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie with Love from Dee Dee," she succeeded in being Billie The Singer and that is the whole concept of this recording. She gave justice to Billie Holiday's unique phrasing and distinctive style of singing.

Apart from the singer's winning vocal prowess, there are extraordinary talented musicians who lend their expertise in making this top-notch album standout from among the Grammy nominees. They are Christian McBride on bass, Lewis Nash on drums, arranger Edsel Gomez on piano and multi-instrumentalist James Carter on tenor/soprano sax, bass clarinet and alto flute.
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I listened to this CD many times on Spotify before I actually decided to buy it...I bought it immediately after watching Dee Dee Bridgewater live presenting this excellent album.

To tell you the truth, her live performance is even better than the disc, and her musicians were first class, amazing!

I love Edsel's arrangements; they're modern and yet still don't lose the Billie Holiday touch, which is what I believe they were aiming at when they created this disc.
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