Dressed in a bright green sequined, ankle length gown, Dee Dee Bridgewater was as dazzling visually as her show was fierce at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She was a gracious and energetic performer, thanking the listeners for coming out in the snow and complimenting her quartet who, as she says is the reason she runs to her concerts. The performance was a tribute to Billie Holiday and if anyone could rekindle the essence of the legendary jazz icon, it would be Bridgewater. She successfully portrayed Holiday over 20 years ago in a London and Paris theatrical production called “Little Day”.
Bridgewater opened with a sweet seductive version of “Lady Sings The Blues”, then flowed right into eight other pieces including “Brown Eyes” where at one point she used her voice to mimic the sound of a trombone. Though one would recognize them as Billie Holiday classics, it was Bridgewater’s theatrical inputs, flirtatious manner and riveting vocals that gave them renewed energy and made them her own for the night.
Musical director and pianist Edsel Gomez led the quartet effectively throughout the evening, even laying down a passionate piano solo. However, it was alto saxophonist and flutist Craig Handy who gave a memorable, breathtaking flute solo during “Don’t Explain”. Bassist Kenny Davis and drummer Lewis Nash, also seasoned performers gave a visually vigorous performance as well. The concert by the Dee Dee Bridgewater Quartet was sizzling and sensational. I can’t imagine there being a hotter show taking place on this evening.