Four great albums from Dee Dee Bridgewatwer – a hell of a jazz singer, and also a great soul talent too! First up is a self-titled set from 1976 – Dee Dee Bridgewater's first album as a soul singer – recorded a few years after she first broke on the scene as a righteous jazz vocalist on hip early 70s classics! The sound here is different than the material Bridgewater started with, but still plenty great from a soul perspective – tightly-crafted, sophisticated work that features both uptempo and mellow cuts – in a mode that's quite similar to the Columbia work of Marlena Shaw – another former jazz vocalist who made a 70s shift to soul. Production is by Gene Page, Jerry Wexler, and Stephen Scheaffer – and the set was recorded in a variety of different setting that spin out over the course of the tracks. We're most partial to the mellow cuts – which trip along with some great spacey edges – and titles include a great version of "He's Gone", plus "My Prayer", "You Saved Me", "Goin Through The Motions", "It Ain't Easy", and "Every Man Wants Another Man's Woman". Just Family is a sweet funky fusion album that Dee Dee recorded for Elektra in the late 70s. The set was produced by Stanley Clarke, and has a soul/
fusion sound that's not that different than his own work of the time, and which works very well with Dee Dee's sweet vocal approach. Players include Bobby Lyle, Ronnie Foster, George Duke, and other strong 70s fusion players – and overall, the record's probably Dee Dee's best non straight jazz album of the 70s. Tracks include "Sweet Rain", "Open Up Your Eyes", "Just Family", "Melody Maker", and "Children Are The Spirit (Of The World)". Bad For Me is one of Dee Dee Bridgewater's standout sets as a soul singer in the 70s – a mode that's quite different than the sound of Bridgewater you may know from her mostly-jazz career – but one that gets plenty of sharp help from the great George Duke! Duke produced the set – and really knows how to balance Dee Dee's jazz roots with some of the modern soul impulses of the set – letting her really soar on some mellower moments, while hewing to the groove on the more upbeat cuts – which may well be some of the strongest on the album. Throughout it all, Bridgewater is a model of care and class – very different than most mainstream R&B singers of the time – and titles include "Streetsinger", "For the Girls", "Love Won't Let Me Go", "Back Of Your Mind", and "Is This What The Feeling Gets". Last up is the second self-titled Dee Dee Bridgewater album, from 1980 – recorded during a brief break from jazz at the end of the 70s, and done with some sweetly grooving from Thom Bell! The sound here's a bit like that of some of the later Philly International work from the same stretch – a maturing style that still has a bit of the earlier groove in place, yet which also takes on a more sophisticated approach, especially on the mellower cuts and ballads. In a way, the format's a bit like that used for Jean Carn or Phyllis Hyman at the time – and like those singers, Dee Dee seems to work best here when she's got a nice gentle groove to bring out the jazzier inflections in her voice! Titles include "When You're In Love", "That's The Way Love Should Feel", "Give In To Love", "Lonely Disco Dancer", "One In A Million Guy", and "Jody (Whoever You Are)".