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Dee Dee Bridgewater, Irvin Mayfield & The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra: Dee Dee's Feathers

Dan Bilawsky By

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Much has been said and written about the resilience of the people, culture, and spirit of New Orleans, but the music that continues to come out of NOLA confirms that truth better than any speech or essay ever could. For the story of that fair city—good, bad, and bruised as it has been—can only truly be told, understood, and felt through the notes, grooves, parades, ceremonies, and street performances that pour through it. The musicians—not the politicians, orators, lecturers, and blowhards—carry the history of NOLA along, and that becomes clear whenever Irvin Mayfield puts his trumpet to his lips.

Whether fronting the eighteen-piece New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, teaming up with pianist Ellis Marsalis, or working with a strong combo, Mayfield remains committed to sharing the musical heritage of his hometown. Here, he joins forces with nonpareil vocal powerhouse Dee Dee Bridgewater for a fine-tuned program that travels from swanky supper club environs to swampy down-home dives to the rhythmic heart of the city—Congo Square. And in the act of balancing all of that out, Bridgewater and Mayfield manage to bring out the best qualities in this music—spunk, soul, polish, passion, and joie de vivre.

The combination of Bridgewater's bluesy and beautifully brash delivery of these songs, Mayfield's bawdy trumpet solos and obbligato work, the authentic, swaying and swooning sounds of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and the contributions of notable guests like Dr. John and percussionist Bill Summers makes for a winning formula. It's impossible not to smile when Dr. John starts in with some Professor Longhair-ish piano on "Big Chief," when the sashaying "Treme Song/Do Whatcha Wanna" gets going," and when "New Orleans" slowly swaggers and burns down everything in its path. Elsewhere, Summers' percussion gets hips shaking and bodies moving, Bridgewater and Mayfield trade musical quips, and the band simmers, swings, and seduces. Through it all, certain things become apparent: Bridgewater is a masterful storyteller, a peerless interpreter, and, without a doubt, the finest scat singer operating today; Mayfield wears his heart and his home-based identity on his sleeve; and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra is all about authenticity and engagement. Dee Dee's Feather's is simply delightful, capable of tickling a listener's fancy as only music from The Big Easy can do.

Track Listing: One Fine Thing; What a Wonderful World; Big Chief; St. James Infirmary; Dee Dee's Feathers; New Orleans; Treme Song/Do Whatcha Wanna; Come Sunday; Congo Square; C'est Ici Que Je T'Aime; Do You Know What It Means; Whoopin' Blues.

Personnel: Dee Dee Bridgewater: voce; Irvin Mayfield: tromba, voce; Bernard Floyd: 1° tromba; Ashlin Parker, Eric Lucero, Leon Brown, Branden Lewis: trombe; Michael Watson: 1° trombone; David L. Harris, Emily Fredrickson: tromboni; Khari Allen Lee: sax contralto; Rex Gregory: 1°sax contralto, clarinetto, flauto; Derek Douget: sax tenore; Edward Petersen: sax tenore; Jason W. Marshall: sax baritono, clarinetto basso; Victor Atkins: pianoforte; Jasen Weaver: contrabbasso; Don Vappie: chitarra, banjo; Adonis Rose: batteria; Glen David Andrews: voce; Ospite: Dr. John: voce.

Title: Dee Dee's Feathers | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Okeh

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