Duchess: Laughing at Life

Mixing the Coolidge years with the modernity of an iphone app, the trio Duchess (Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner & Melissa Stylianou) deliver a sophomore release that is as fun, frenetic and fanciful as their ’15 debut. Each of these ladies have impressive solo careers of their own, but together they mix the maniacal harmonies of the Boswell Sisters with a mix and match of swing, bop and beyond.

Their voices meld together like honey and Greek Yoghurt, as they weave and out like cars in a roundabout on pieces like the playful “Swing Brother Swing” (with Jeff Ledere’s ribald tenor sax) and Rat Packish “Here’s to the Losers.” The rhythm team of Michael Cabe/p, Matt Aronoff/b, Jared Schonig/dr  and guitarist Jessie Lewis are able to testify in support of Gardner’s preaching on “Hallelujah I Love (Him) So” and everyone sounds cozy like it’s a Summer Sunday Concert Series at the Park with a cozy “We’ll Meet Again”(with Anat Cohen on clarinet) and “Down.”

The harmonies get shadowy like a Monet on “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” while Amy gives a wink of the eye as they sound like they just  popped into a Max Fleischer cartoon on “Give Him the Oo La La,” and Melissa gets both modern and nostalgic on “Where Would You Be Without Me.” Most successful is when Wycliffe Gordon brings in his plunging trumpet and old world voice to join in the irresistible harmonics that give homage to Ellington’s reed section for a delightful “Creole Love Call” that has the foursome sound like honeysuckle hanging from a live oak tree. Enjoyable on a myriad of levels. I caught them on their last tour, and they are not to be missed!


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