Dee Dee Bridgewater & Irvin Mayfield, 'Dee Dee's Feathers,' Okeh/Sony/DDB (REVIEW)

By Mike Greenblatt on Aug 19, 2015 05:28 PM EDT
Dee Dee Bridgewater Dee Dee Bridgewater teams up with Irvin Mayfield to celebrate NOLA on 'Dee Dee's Feathers' (Photo : Mark Higashino)

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? From Pops to Jelly Roll Morton, the essence of one of the world’s great towns is boiled down to 12 beatific tracks on Dee Dee’s Feathers, a collaboration between vocalist supreme Dee Dee Bridgewater and band leader/multi-instrumentalist/composer/educator Irvin Mayfield and his New Orleans Jazz Orchestra.

“In recognition and honor,” on the upcoming 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, “as a tangible example of rebirth, healing and love through the art of jazz,” according to CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien, this three-day recording session took place at Esplanade Studios, a reconverted church in the heart of the Crescent City.

Some colorful locals like Dr. John (who sings on “Big Chief”) came to jam. Traditional fare (“Saint James Infirmary,” “What A Wonderful World” and, of course, “Do You Know What It Means”) is juxtaposed with the theme to the HBO series Treme, and creatively colorful interpretations of Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday” (first sung by Mahalia Jackson in 1958), Hoagy Carmichael’s 1932 “New Orleans” and native son Harry Connick, Jr.’s 2013 “One Fine Thing."

Mayfield wrote the oh-so-funky “Congo Square” in tribute to where the slaves of 1817, upon being shipped in from Africa, were finally legally allowed to make music (after 92 years of enforced silence). Louis Armstrong Park (across Rampart Street just north of French Quarter) sits on that spot today. Mayfield also penned “C’est Ici Que Je T’Aaime” (Louisiana, originally owned by France, was sold to the U.S. by Napoleon in 1803) and the title track, which refers to the fine feathered costumes that the Indian Big Chiefs work on all year for Mardi Gras.

It all ends with a raucous “Whoopin’ Blues” containing some priceless interplay between D and Irvin reminiscent of the great old double-entendre race records that used to have to be sold under-the-counter for fear of legal censorship reprisals.

We’ve come a long way, baby, but we still have a long way to go.

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TagsDee Dee Bridgewater, Irvin Mayfield, New Orleans

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