DUCHESS is two. If you know them, that is cause for celebration: they are a witty, swinging, tender, hilarious vocal trio: Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner, Melissa Stylianou. Their repertoire is inspired by the Sisters Boswell and Andrews, but they are far from a repertory company of old-records-brought-to-life, and they have singular energy and snap. If DUCHESS is new to you, prepare to be cheered and elated.
At their October 16 concert at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City (a most congenial place to wander in as well as a comfortable venue for music) they were supported by Jeff Lederer, reeds; Michael Cabe, piano; Elias Bailey, string bass; Jesse Lewis, guitar. The show was billed as DUCHESS UNPLUGGED, so (with regrets) they left their percussionist at home and performed with very little electrical or electronic assistance. I was thrilled to be invited to the Rubin concert and brought back for the JAZZ LIVES audience four new videos of DUCHESS doing what they do best — enthusiastic, expert harmony and solo singing, beautifully and warmly accomplished.
Remembering the Rhythm Boys, Bix and Bing, THERE AIN’T NO SWEET MAN (THAT’S WORTH THE SALT OF MY TEARS):
For those three Greek women who went before, THREE LITTLE SISTERS:
And those harmony masters from New Orleans, EVERYBODY LOVES MY BABY:
Finally, by special request (mine) the very tender P.S., I LOVE YOU:
And since you’ll now want to learn more about DUCHESS, follow them to other gigs, and buy their wonderful CD, some cyber-data.
Two other thoughts. I am always moderately proud of my videos as one kind of representation of an experience, but DUCHESS is a more vivid experience than even the best cameras could capture. They do that rare thing — sometimes lost in this century — of providing inventive music while entertaining us. And I don’t think “entertainment” is a negative word. So you could take someone to hear DUCHESS even if that person steadfastly says, “I don’t like jazz. I don’t understand it,” and there would be a sweet (subversive) conversion experience before the night was through. If this sounds like a not-terribly subtle encouragement to see DUCHESS live, it is. We wish them many more birthdays.
May your happiness increase!