Dee Dee Bridgewater's smile says it all: JazzSet is happily celebrating 20 years of performances every week on NPR. In September, we featured original host Branford Marsalis with his 2012 quartet for our anniversary. Now, today's host Dee Dee Bridgewater weaves her spell and leads a crack quintet through a new set from the Caramoor Jazz Festival.
Held each summer in the lovely hillside country of Westchester County, the Caramoor Jazz Festival is in a Venetian theatre in a rolling woods, about 40 miles northeast of New York City. All summer, Caramoor presents chamber music, opera, Latin music, a resident orchestra and more — rain or shine. The 2012 jazz lineup featured Bridgewater, drummer extraordinaire Roy Haynes, solo pianist Kenny Barron, award-winning vocalist Gretchen Parlato and the smoking-hot Cookers all-star band.
Bridgewater's musical director is Edsel Gomez, arranger and pianist. He's her orchestra, pacesetter and descarga driver all in one. Craig "My Handyman" Handy on saxophone shadows and boxes with Bridgewater's voice. They revel in their closeness in "Besame Mucho." Michael Bowie played bass for Abbey Lincoln, one of Bridgewater's mentors and friends (as heard in her Tribute to Abbey on JazzSet). Bridgewater first heard Kenny Phelps last year in the house band at The Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis. He was accompanying finalists in the American Pianists Association competition. She loved the pianists, but she got Phelps' phone number on the spot.
After Bridgewater's set at Caramoor, there was a moment backstage when she reunited with her dear friend Roy Haynes. Flashbulbs were popping as they admired each other's shoes. (Thanks to Richard Conde for the picture.)
Haynes' Fountain of Youth Band (Jaleel Shaw, Martin Bejerano, David Wong) give us a little something extra for the site, fulfilling a request from someone in the audience for "All Blues."
The 2013 Caramoor Jazz Festival will be the 20th, and it's already scheduled for July 26-28. Jim Luce produces the Caramoor Jazz Festival. Managing director is Paul Rosenbloom.