Rush Hour Store Record of the week W49:
With their steady flow of mind-altering new releases by Makaya McCraven, Angel Bat Dawid, Anteloper, Jeff Parker, Emma-Jean Thackray and Carlos Niño & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson the Chicago-based International Anthem imprint has fast become one of our favorite jazz labels in recent history. Their latest release by bassist Dezron Douglas & harpist Brandee Younger is another work of pure beauty.
Like most of us Douglas and Younger, who are partners both in music and in real life, were stuck in their house earlier this year (in this case a Harlem, New York apartment) but unlike many of us they decided not to waste any time. The two, who have worked with Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane, David Murray, Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, Stevie Wonder, The Roots, Lauryn Hill, Moses Sumney and many others started hosting live-stream performances from their living room, playing their interpretations of classic tunes for friends and family every friday.
Some of the highlights of these sessions are captured on ’Force Majeure’, an album that has the duo playing spirited lockdown interpretations of songs by Alice & John Coltrane, The Stylistics, The Jackson 5, Pharoah Sanders, Kate Bush, Sting and The Carpenters, all presented ’as is’ in a pure and honest way - without the fancy studio equipment and endless overdubs. It’s that spontaneity that greatly adds to the beauty of it all. It’s as if you’re there, sitting in a corner quietly, just listening. Something most of us have been missing - getting together without any restrictions to celebrate life and listen to good music.
The duo’s brilliant take on Pharoah Sanders’ classic spiritual jazz anthem ‘The Creator Has A Master Plan’ is a firm favorite here (are there songs more beautiful to begin with?), but there are no weak moments on this wonderfully understated album. These two can take on anything, flip it, make it their own and win you over instantly - just check out their bittersweet version of The Stylistics’ schmaltzy soul-pop evergreen ‘You Make Me Feel Brand New’ for further proof (RO).
Amazing! - Home recorded album including gorgeous interpretations of songs by Alice & John Coltrane, The Stylistics, The Jackson 5, Pharoah Sanders, Kate Bush, Sting, and The Carpenters… plus some solid gold nuggets of their banter between tunes. It’s an uplifting suite of real, soulful comfort music – a spiritual salve, emanating warmth from the hearth of a Harlem sanctuary !
In March of 2020 bassist Dezron Douglas & harpist Brandee Younger were nestled in their apartment in Harlem, New York, not long after every live concert in the world was cancelled and most folks in the United States were forced to shelter in place for the covid lockdown. With all their gigs cancelled and their incomes strapped.. the two came up with an idea. They would host a live-stream performance from their living room, where they would perform classic tunes for friends and family to watch online, and folks could send them donations. They called it “Force Majeure: Brunch in the Crib with Brandee & mDezron,” the first part in homage to the ubiquitous contract clause that never seems to have any use (except all of sudden, c/o a covid-induced live music industry collapse). The immense popularity of their first performance roped them into doing it again, and again, until it eventually became a weekly ritual for Douglas, Younger, and their many friends and family who tuned in every Friday morning. Knowing the beautiful, natural sound they made in their living room would be as enjoyable (or more) as a record as it was through a social media stream… we mailed them a microphone to record themselves. What’s heard on this album, Force Majeure, is a collection of highlights from Douglas & Younger’s legendary lockdown livestream brunch sessions.
Dezron Douglas & Brandee Younger are long time companions in life and in music. The two East Coast natives met early in life and have accompanied each other, personally and professionally, through their mequally prolific careers. Douglas, a bassist who has established himself as a musician’s musician, is known to many for his work with Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane, David Murray, and Keyon Harold. Younger, a harpist who has distinguished herself as one of the premiere voices in her field, is known for her work with Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, Stevie Wonder, The Roots, Lauryn Hill, and Moses Sumney. To the day Douglas and Younger often accompany each other in many of the ensembles they lead, respectively. The two played together in sessions for Makaya McCraven’s 2018 release Universal Beings, on which they are both featured artists. Of Force Majeure, McCraven says: “It’s a testament to the power of music to uplift us through the most challenging times.”