Dee Dee Bridgewater

J'ai Deux Amours

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These Parisian café tunes bring out the best in this stellar jazz singer, particularly on the opening title track. Accompanied by accordion, which introduces the song, Dee Dee Bridgewater takes you from Paris down to the French Riviera with a warm, slightly island sound as she sings en français. And she has no problem creating her soothing jazz pipes regardless of language. It's as if she's been influenced by the greats but also by the late Henry Mancini in terms of some of the arrangements. A cover of "La Mer (Beyond the Sea)" is a faster, up-tempo approach far different than the swinging version by Bobby Darin. Guitarist Louis Winsberg also does a commendable job on this song. Bridgewater shines on several of these songs, especially her tender, hushed tone during "Ne Me Quitte Pas"'s opening before she opens up with drum brushes in the background. She changes things slightly during "Mon Homme (My Man)" when she opts to sing in both French and English, the latter in a rather swinging, tropical manner. The strength of the album is in the selections that suit the singer to a tee, including the soothing, down-tempo arrangement of "Que Reste-T-Il de Nos Amours," holding notes in the vein of Cassandra Wilson or Shirley Horn. The highlight is the dreamy ten-minute "La Belle Vie (The Good Life)" that opens with Bridgewater and a lone bass. In no hurry to finish the tune, Bridgewater seems to outdo herself as an accordion fades in and out of the song prior to a glistening guitar solo. Perhaps the lone aberration is "La Vie en Rose," which has less jazz and more of a world feeling to it as the drums and percussion create a sense of tension. Bridgewater has made a very good album. Tres bien.

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