Dee Dee Bridgewater is celebrating the music of Kurt Weill on a tour marking the release of her new Verve CD, “This Is New.” The rich Weill legacy has seldom enjoyed such a rueful and fully fleshed-out jazz take.
The jazz diva confesses to having done little research into the life of the celebrated German-born composer, but she has found the inner core of his early, hard-edged pieces, like “Bilbao Song.” Her seductive reading of this dark lyric from “Happy End” cuts through fog with stealthy Brechtian allure.
Weill songs like “This Is New” and “Speak Low” have a way of aiming straight for the heart, andBridgewater takes careful aim. The singer dedicated “Here I’ll Stay” to the Newark-based jazz station WBGO. Her National Public Radio broadcast “Jazz Set” is a weekly station feature. The gorgeous tune from “Love Life,” with its Alan Jay Lerner lyric, was cushioned by a beautiful guitar solo.
Bridgewater offered the rarely performed bittersweet verse to “September Song,” set to an infectious Latin beat.
She found the emotional depth in Maxwell Anderson’s timely “Lost in the Stars” and captured the sexy swaggering fun of Ira Gershwin’s “The Saga of Jenny,” from “Lady in the Dark.”
Missing from the repertoire was “Mack the Knife,” which the singer featured on her Grammy-winning tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.
For a closer, the lady took an expansive spin on “Alabama Song.” Bridgewater has unfailing verve and energy to spare. She dances, gyrates and gets down during the instrumental links, and her musicians are fueled to swing, especially percussionist Minino Garay on conga, bongos and cajon.