Dezron Douglas

Force Majeure
(International Anthem)

With conventional performance venues closed and inescapable uncertainty around physical, emotional and economic well-being, bassist Dezron Douglas and harpist Brandee Younger deliver a touching laissez-faire album focused equally on a need to engage artistically and a desire to connect with an attuned audience.

Recorded and streamed midmorning from their Harlem living room between March and June 2020, Force Majeure charms in its naturalness, whether it’s the duo encouraging listeners to stay safe or the occasional false start. But there’s also the undeniable musical rapport and sparkling musicianship throughout. A wryly titled original—“Toilet Paper Romance,” with its comely melody and enchanting rhythmic bounce—is worthy of future exploration with expanded instrumentation. Elsewhere, the album consists of cherry-picked jazz, soul and pop covers. Alongside Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has A Master Plan,” the duo’s mesmerizing rendition of Alice Coltrane’s “Gospel Trane” and takes on a pair of John Coltrane tunes play into the current spiritual-jazz renaissance. More refreshing, however, are the lovely makeovers of the Stylistics’ quiet-storm staple “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” Kate Bush’s poignant “This Woman’s Work” and the surprising interpretation of Joe Raposo’s “Sing” from Sesame Street.

Force Majeure ranks as a triumph of the human spirit—a time capsule that could be revealed to be a document of jazz’s resilience and grace amid disastrous odds.