13 years after her prior in-performance release Live in Paris, Bridgewater has not so much matured or refined her approach as she has gotten bolder. This CD was recorded on what would have been her idol Ella Fitzgerald's 80th birthday weekend at Yoshi's in Oakland, CA. She scats in the style of Fitzgerald on most of these numbers -- not quite in the higher range, but comfortably in the middle -- while also displaying some of Sarah Vaughan's more deeply soulful traits. It's a combination of the two, with a little bawdiness for spice, that has made Bridgewater a prime purveyor of excitable jazz vocalizing these days. The set begins with the Charlie Shavers evergreen "Undecided," as the singer stops and starts the band on several dimes for the initial lines, exacting choppy phrases and similar scatting á la Fitzgerald on the bridge. In an Ella-cum-Betty Carter mode for "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," Bridgewater waxes frantically on the effect of an obviously full moon turning her into a scatting monster during two different uptempos. Then she brings out the Sarah Vaughan nightshade for "Midnight Sun," a memorable rendition especially buoyed by Eliez, with rubato intro of bass and piano underneath cat-walking, stealth phrases, stunningly set between the bass and piano lock-step with the vocal line. Then they dive headlong into "Love for Sale" for just over 14 minutes, and more delicate vocals lead to a scat much faster than the band's rhythm. The finale "Cotton Tail" is a three-ring exercise in scat. This program comprises a side of Bridgewater's well-known vehicles used for years as a springboard for her formidable talent -- unabashed and unafraid.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos