by Jeff Becker
The Christmas season is upon us in full thrush. Relatives are flowing into the home, and unbeknownst to them, you are still hurrying to have all delicacies ready for their enjoyment. Wait, wait, what about your enjoyment too? Well, thankfully I have the cure for those hosting blues. The inviting and inventive sounds of New York’s finest duet Acute Inflections have devised a tonic especially for you. A collection of well-known Christmas standards and in particular their own original, titled “In December” which also happens to be the title track.
“Sleigh Ride” starts with Pierre setting up the groove with his warm bass sound and percussive right-hand effects from slapping and tapping on the acoustic bass body. Douglas enters with her clear timbre and playful vocal style. She unfolds the melody with style, unique variations and musical surprise. Nowhere are the surprises more prevalent than in the bridge, here, the duet shows their creative arranging skills. With Pierre walking a steady beat. Douglas’ phrasing and note choices are outstanding, changing the original melody enough to make it a surprise while still maintaining the original shape and recognizable lyrics. Pierre’s solo is melodic and based around the groove, he keeps the pulse clear. Douglas enters on the bridge. The last chorus finds Douglas expanding and showing her unique phrasing. The cadential figure is wonderful, the playful giddy up is very hip.
Acute Inflections is not afraid to take chances, and that is what make their duet so exciting to listen to and explore. “Winter Wonderland” shows the duets exploratory spirt in full force. The melody is given a daring re-harmonization and a climbing melodic line that works beautifully! The bridge has an interesting metric modulation to a quarter note swing feel and then back to the original feel. Pierre plays with the time and melody in his solo, keeping the listener on their toes, but never losing the form, pulse or melodic flow of the tune. Douglas enters on the bridge. The ascending melodic variation of the A section is wonderful. Douglas has a beautiful upper range of her voice and at the end of this track she shows her power, diverse phrasing and vocal control.
Ready to shake off those holiday stresses, and dance around the kitchen while doing it. Check into In December and set your spirit straight.