Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
Acclaimed jazz vocalist and 2017 NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater makes her return to Chicago’s Symphony Center on Friday, June 1, at 8:00 p.m. to present her latest project, Memphis. A swinging set from The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra directed by Scotty Barnhart completes the program in a rousing conclusion to the 2017/18 Symphony Center Presents (SCP) Jazz series.
Dee Dee Bridgewater’s set features music from her latest recording, Memphis … Yes, I’m Ready, an homage to the musical legacy of Bridgewater’s hometown. In a program that spans selections ranging from jazz and blues to R&B and soul, Bridgewater pays tribute to the greats who defined the “Memphis Sound” with covers of hits by B.B. King, Otis Redding and others infused with her own unique sound and spirit. The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra serves up a set of swinging numbers, the likes of which secured Count Basie and his orchestra a place among the greatest in jazz history. Now led by director and trumpeter Scotty Barnhart, the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra presents a program that features the same heady mixture of blues, swinging rhythms and hot instrumental solos that put them on the map nearly 80 years ago.
Grammy and Tony Award-winning jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater earned her first professional experience as a member of the legendary Thad Jones/Mel Louis Big Band and rose to fame performing with the likes of Max Roach, Sonny Rollins and Dizzy Gillespie. Her illustrious recording career with Universal Music Group has garnered Grammy nominations for all but one of her critically-acclaimed titles. Surprisingly, Bridgewater has also pursued a parallel career in musical theater, winning a Tony Award in 1975 for her role as “Glinda” in The Wiz. In April 2017, Bridgewater was honored as an NEA Jazz Masters Fellow at the Kennedy Center. Her latest album, Memphis…Yes, I’m Ready, was released in September 2017 to wide acclaim.
The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, founded in 1927 in Kansas City by William “Count” Basie, is one of the most influential and iconic big bands in jazz history. Now directed by trumpeter Scotty Barnhart, the Count Basie Orchestra has been recognized by every respected jazz poll in the world at least once, won 18 Grammy Awards, appeared in several movies and television shows, and performed at major jazz festivals and concert halls around the world. Current members of the band, many of whom were hired by Count Basie himself, have previously performed with such luminaries as Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Lionel Hampton and Stan Kenton.
Tickets for all Symphony Center Presents Jazz series concerts can be purchased by phone at 800‑223‑7114 or 312-294‑3000, online at cso.org or at the Symphony Center box office: 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604.
NEA Jazz Master, Tony and Grammy winner Dee Dee Bridgewater (photo courtesy of Ms. Bridgewater).
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