Acute Inflections Review
By: Bea Willis
Duets have been on an uprising in the landscape of jazz. Is it the economics of the cost to record, or the freedom that can be obtained with the synergy of two? Duets have long had a place in the jazz idiom. Acute Inflections is a New York based duet that has been entertaining at premier events since forming in 2013. The principal players are vocalist Elasea Douglas, who has a background in dance, theater and acting. Along with upright bassist Sadiki Pierre, who originally began as a classical bassist and found the freedom of jazz was too intoxicating to resist. Earlier this year they released a full-length album titled The Brave, that features a collection of a few of their most popular renditions of well-known songs including classics like “Over The Rainbow,” Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” and their singularly original take on “The Star-Spangled Banner” called “The Brave.” Also, in the spirit of the holiday the duo has released a single titled “In December.” A delightfully inclusive song that traverses the season with a focus on winter activities and the essence it brings.
A highlight track on the The Brave is Winehouse’s “Back to Black.” Pierre sets the tone with percussive beats on the body of his bass, as he plucks elongate lines while Douglas takes the intro also with sustained lines, holding out each note as a mournful homage to Winehouse’s hit song. After the first verse the duo uptakes the tempo to a funky sixteenth note pulse. The two interact, creating a nice flow of the melody and rhythm. So much so, at times you forget you are listening to only voice and bass. Douglas’ bluesy embellishments add to the overall soulfulness of the performance. A point of interest is the bridge section, Pierre holds out whole notes, while with his right he creates percussion as Douglas deepens her low notes to a mysterious hue of sensuality, before building the vocals back to the sixteenth note rhythm. An effectual technique that creates nice textural changes for the tune.
The holiday single “In December,” gives a different look at the duet’s diverse abilities. “In December,” is a solidly written tune, that lyrically is inclusive of all the wonders of the winter season. The tune is also set to a sixteenth note pulse as Douglas espouses the sights and sounds of the holiday season, filled with seasonal cheer. Pierre holds down the vehicle that carry’s the song with rock solid intonation and a propulsion that adds excitement to the feel of the tune. Douglas reaches high into her head voice for an angelic sound on the chorus. The push and pull of the pulse on the verses and chorus also add a subtle variety. The song is cheerful and filled with joy, just the right amplitude for the season.
Acute Inflections is a duet built on mutual admiration, you can hear it in the way Pierre supports Douglas and the trust and freedom Douglas feels as a vocalist, that chemistry is clearly evident in every corner of their album The Brave. Their holiday single “In December,” is a delightful treat that is a must add to your holiday playlist. As we all hurry with the last-minute details, this is one not to be missed.
- Release Date: November 20, 2017 (The Brave)
- Release Date: December 5, 2018 (In December)
- Label: Acute Inflections