Thru the years, Cecil has made in excess of 100 recordings, some as leader as shown here and others as sideman or featured soloist. His compositions and arrangements can be heard on recordings with such musical luminaries as Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Max Roach's Quartet and Double Quartet, Grover Mitchell Big Band, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Bridgewater Brothers, as well as many bands around the world. He's shared the bandstand and concert halls with Lena Horne, Count Basie Orchestra, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Frank Foster's Loud Minority, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Horace Silver, Jimmy Heath, to name a few.
History of the newest CD from the Bridgewater Brothers. African Sunrise - 1974 to 2015 CD History
On January 15 and 17, 1974, my brother, Ron Bridgewater and I, took a group of musicians into the studio to create a recording that was to be put out on a record label where many of our contemporaries had issued recordings. At the time there were no CD’s – only L.P.’s. We found out several things that held up the release of this recording for 40 plus years.
1. There were some issues with the actual recording that needed to be fixed. We went in to the studio to do the final mixes of all the tunes and had trouble getting the correct balances. We discovered that certain microphones had not been turned on during most of the recording so it was impossible to mix the finished recording.
2. The record label was having problems. We were told to hold off until the problems were resolved. The problems eventually, caused the record company to fold up and go into non-existence so we were never able to finish what we started.
We took the 3 boxes of 2 inch reel-to-reel tapes home with the idea that there was nothing that could be done. I took possession of the tapes and kept them in a safe place. Each time I moved to a new location the tapes went with me, from Long Island to Brooklyn to New Jersey!
In 2014, I mentioned to a fellow musician and friend, Eddie Allen, who had put out several recordings on his own label, that I had these tapes and wanted to see if there was anything that could be done with them using new technology. He suggested that I get in touch with Dave Kowalski, an engineer that he had introduced me to when we worked on Eddie’s Big Band CD and his Jazzy Brass Quintet Christmas CD. After speaking to Dave about the tapes, he suggested that I get in touch with West Westside Music in Windsor, NY where they could transfer the tapes from analog to digital. West Westside Music suggested that I bring the tapes to them and let them see what could be done. At this point after 40 years of holding on to the tapes, I figured I got nothing to lose and maybe a lot to gain! They told me they would have to “bake” the tapes before transferring them to digital. That sounded pretty daunting to me because anytime I think of baking something it sounds like you get only one chance to get it right! I made the trip to Windsor, NY with the tapes in-tow and left them for “BAKING” and transfer! A few weeks went by and I was told I could come and pick up the tapes and they had been successfully transferred to the DIGITAL domain! Everything was put on 1 “THUMB DRIVE!” Seemed incredible to me because what I brought them were these 3 big reels of tape and they had been digitized on to a little thumb drive! WOW, the miracle of technology!
Within a few days I got the thumb drive to Dave to see if it was possible to hear what we did 40 years prior! Dave sent me rough mixes of everything and I was amazed that the music was still there and not sounding too bad. In 1974 we were given no reference copies or anything so I was literally hearing them for the very first time.
Dave had done such a great job with the rough mixes that there was little to do to get the final mixes of everything. I depended on Dave’s expertise as an engineer, but also as a musician because he heard things that I didn’t pick up on right away and made corrections to things that I would never have heard. The whole process from going into the studio in 1974 is a journey that for me defies explanation. I know of recordings that have been re-released or those that sat in the warehouse or on the shelf for a few years, but something that was never released for 40 years I think is quite rare and unusual.
This marks the first time that Ron and I recorded in a quintet/sextet setting. Donald Smith has worked and recorded with his brother Lonnie Liston Smith on many occasions, but this may be the first time they both recorded on piano and keyboards together. Buster and Billy have worked and recorded many times before and were like the other set of brothers in the studio.
Ron and I are grateful to the musicians for their expertise and willingness to lend their musical genius to this project.
Donald Smith – piano, organ and vocals*
Lonnie Liston Smith – various Keyboards
Buster Williams – Acoustic and Electric basses
Billy Hart – Drums and percussion
Ron Bridgewater – tenor and soprano saxophones, vocal and percussion *
Cecil Bridgewater – trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion, background vocal *
1. Mizu Hashi San – Ron Bridgewater
2. African Sunrise – Ron Bridgewater
3. Dee Dee - Cecil Bridgewater
4. Scott Free – Cecil Bridgewater
5. Medicine Man – Ron Bridgewater *
6. Niña Del Aqua – Cecil Bridgewater
All compositions published by Bridgewater Publishing Company - ASCAP.
This is the first time many of these songs were ever recorded.
Mizu Hashi San was first recorded by Jon Faddis and Billy Harper in Japan while we were on tour with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. The title means literally Water-Bridge-Mister or Mr. Bridgewater. African Sunrise became part of a suite Ron and I recorded later (1978) for Denon records called Generations Suite.
The composition Dee Dee was part of that suite as well, but named Your Ballad. Scott Free was performed and recorded by Max Roach’s Quartet several years later. Medicine Man and Niña Del Aqua debuted on this CD. Medicine Man is Ron’s debut as a vocalist along with Donald Smith. This composition has the mark of the kinds of music that was being performed and recorded during that period, i.e., Bill Withers, Gil Scott-Herron, etc. Niña Del Aqua was written for my oldest daughter, Tulani, who was only two years old when she made a trip with her mother, Dee Dee, to Puerto Rico and enjoyed the pool so much that it was difficult to get her out of the water.
African Sunrise: A new day, a dawning of a new time! Coming from the political awareness and strides made during the fifties and sixties and the willingness of everyone taking responsibility for who they are and what they present. Max Roach said that, “not only is the musician the product, but also the producer of that product, therefore why shouldn’t he/she own and control their product!”