Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dee Dee Bridgewater: consumate jazz vocalist and ambassador

Born Denise Grant in Memphis on May 27, 1950 to father Matthew, a trumpeteer and teacher, few entertainers have ever commanded such depth of artistry in every medium as Dee Dee Bridgewater. And, even fewer still have been rewarded with Broadway’s coveted Tony Award (Best Featured Actress in a Musical The Wiz), nominated for the London theater’s West End equivalent, the Laurence Oliver Award (Best Actress in a Musical Lady Day), won two Grammy Awards (1998’s Best Jazz Vocal Performance and Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocal for “Cottontail” Slide Hampton, arranger “Dear Ella “), and France’s 1998 top honor Victoire de la Musique (Best Jazz Vocal Album).

Matthew Grant exposed young Denise to his love of jazz at an early age. The youngster enjoyed the many records her father played her, especially those of Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley. By the age of 16 she was in a vocal trio that specialized in R&B and rock cover versions.

Dee Dee made her phenomenal New York debut in 1970 as the lead vocalist for the band led by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, one of the premier jazz orchestras of the time. These New York years marked an early career in concerts and on recordings with such giants as Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Max Roach and rich experiences with Norman Connors, Stanley Clarke and Frank Foster’s “Loud Minority.”

In 1976 she landed her first recording contract with Atlantic Records. Her first release was simply entitled “Dee Dee Bridgewater.” Her 2007 release of “Red Earth,” is her ode to Mali and Africa, and singing in the spirit that calls on her African ancestry and with reverence for jazz tradition at its best.

Dee Dee Bridgewater was named ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1999 joining the battle against world hunger.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Clifton Anderson's many Decades of music

Clifton Anderson was born in Harlem, New York City. He grew up surrounded by music. His Jamaican father was a church organist and choir director, and his USVI mother a singer and pianist. It was no surprise that Clifton exhibited an affinity for music at an early age. When he was just seven years old he got his first trombone, a gift from his famous uncle Sonny Rollins.

In 1983 Clifton joined his uncle, Sonny Rollins. Since, he has been a member of Sonny’s group and has toured extensively with him, performing throughout Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, Canada and of course the United States. Clifton has also appeared on ten Sonny Rollins recordings.

Clifton has worked with diverse musical giants: from Frank Foster, McCoy Tyner, Clifford Jordan, Stevie Wonder, Dizzy Gillespie, Merv Griffin and The Mighty Sparrow to Lester Bowie, Paul Simon, WyClef Jean, and Dionne Warwick among others. Clifton’s credits also include the Broadway shows Dreamgirls and Nine.

Aired in Jamaica on Dermot Hussey's Riffin prog, Anderson's newest work Decade, is dedicated to the memory of his departed mother.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

British choir delights with Jamaican folksong