Dee Dee Bridgewater, the actress who won a Tony Award for playing Glinda in The Wiz, is singing new songs — "Bilboa Song," "Alabama Song" and "September Song," among others — on her Kurt Weill CD jazz tribute, "This is New," on the Verve label. The 11-track disc gets released Aug. 6, and offers fresh interpretations of songs by Weill, the German-born composer whose collaborators included Bertolt Brecht, Ira Gershwin and Alan Jay Lerner, among others. The CD includes the rhythmic title track, plus "Lost in the Stars," "Bilbao Song," "My Ship," "Alabama Song," "The Saga of Jenny," "Youkali" (a tango that emerged in Marie Galante in 1934, and was published in 1946 with a lyric by Roger Fernay), "I'm a Stranger Here Myself," "Speak Low," "September Song" and "Here I'll Stay."
"Cross-cultural touches...illuminate the encounter between vocalist and composer," writes Bob Blumenthal, in liner notes. "Bridgewater has expanded the music's international references with flamecno guitar and bandoneon, and with arrangements awash in color and rhythmic nuance."
Bridgewater was nominated for the Olivier Award in London for Lady Day, and is a Grammy Award-winning vocalist. Produced by Bridgewater, "This is New" was recorded and mixed by Al Schmitt at Studio XXX in Paris, and features arrangements by Cecil Bridgewater and Thierry Eliez. The disc is billed as the "first vocal jazz songbook dedicated to Kurt Weill's music."
— By Kenneth Jones