By John Murph | Published June 2020
With all its fizzy energy, bubbly chatter and throwback repertoire, some stern jazz fans might dismiss this live date as kitsch. But even slapstick humor becomes a work of art when executed with keen ingenuity. And a work of art this is.
Singers Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner and Melissa Stylianou channel a lot of bracing harmonies and the cheeky wit of the Boswell Sisters, then delve into a batch of vintage jazz tunes. Duchess also tips its hat to its other lodestar, the Andrew Sisters, with sterling versions of “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen,” “Joseph, Joseph” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”
Like the best of live albumss, sometimes the banter between songs is just as rewarding as the music. And while Duchess never goes for the ribald, it’s a delight hearing how the women jokingly objectify male members of their band as they introduce them to the audience. Duchess then sublimely segues into “It’s A Man,” a song that ignites with a double entendre: “There’s a three-legged animal roaming about.”
Joyous music reigns supreme, though. In addition to Duchess’ panache, the accompanying quartet—particularly guitarist Jesse Lewis and pianist Michael Cabe issuing solos throughout the concert—is equally fabulous.
Duchess wisely avoids recontexualizing the tunes through a forced 21st-century lens, instead allowing the material to exude its own sense of veneration. And it does so on its own terms.
Live At Jazz Standard: Introductions; (We) Love Being Here With You; Dialogue; Swing Brother Swing; Dialogue; Heebie Jeebies; Band Introductions; It’s A Man; Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen; On The Sunny Side Of The Street; Dialogue; Joseph, Joseph; Dialogue; Three Little Sisters; Dialogue; A Little Jive Is Good For You; Creole Love Call; Dialogue; Chattanooga Choo Choo; Dialogue; Everybody Loves My Baby. (55:33)
Personnel: Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner, Melissa Stylianou, vocals; Michael Cabe, piano; Jesse Lewis, guitar; Matt Aronoff, bass; Jared Schonig, drums.