by J. Pepper
Upright bass and voice though it may not be a new concept, vocalists like Sheila Jordan, Carmen McRae and of course Peggy Lee brought its magnificent possibilities to the masses. It takes two special musicians to pull this feat off, two deeply in tune with each other players that listen, interact, and can hear the music beyond the accompaniment and stand strong in their part of the performance. On the scene, two brand new names come to the forefront. They call themselves Acute Inflections, featuring Elasea Douglas a gifted singer, songwriter, dancer and actress, and Sadiki Pierre a talented upright bass player who is uniquely capable of playing and fusing almost any style of music including classical, jazz, Latin, reggae and R&B, these unique traits are ever-present in their debut offering entitled The Brave. A cornucopia of tunes taken from various genres of music and artist, tied up into a jazz melded idiom that stands tall among the bass and voice tradition.
“L-O-V-E,” begins the album, a shimmering rendition of the classic tune made famous by Nat King Cole in 1965. The duo maneuvers the melody with ease, adding a modulation in the tune to give an added melody lilt. Douglas has a delightful soprano voice that is clear and full of energy in the way she articulates the lyrics, while Pierre supports with agile, percussive rhythms as the two weave through the tune and make it their own.
Amy Winehouse’s tune “Back to Black,” is taken at a much slower tempo for the intro, Douglas elongates each note, creating a somber feel. The tempo is picked up and Douglas utilizes her feminine angst to soulfully convey the heartbreak of the tune. The most striking thing about this duet is their use of all of their talents. Douglas has a fully rounded voice, that is sweet and soaring when using her head voice and growling and soulful when she digs into her arsenal. So many times, I forgot I was listening to just bass and voice, the amount of sound that Pierre creates with the pluck of a string, or the thump of the side of his bass or the mixed textures of layers he creates in his playing. What is clear is the divine chemistry these two share and the evidentiary love of music. It shines through, you can hear the smile in Douglas’ voice and the affection Pierre has for both the music and Douglas.