A majority of jazz vocals discs I have heard in my 20 years of writing about them have included at least one voice-bass duet. It is a most effective format, but one not for the faint of heart as an artist. Both duet participants are more naked than in any larger format. It takes two performers who not only have perfect time, but perfect time that is synchronized to one another. When effective, this format makes for a challenging and rewarding experience. It is clean and sensual like making love in a bath of warmed milk.
Entire recordings of voice-bass duet do exist. Bull Fonda Duo: Cup of Joe, No Bull (Corn Hill Indie, 2005), a fine recording pops into memory. Presently, an equally fine and enjoyable duet reveals itself in InDialogue's Blue Skies. InDuologue is a Greek duo made up of vocalist Alexandra Lerta and bassist Vasilis Stefanopoulos. The two share a musical empathy that is drum tight. They swing as effortlessly and hard as a driving big band whose momentum approaches entropy at infinity.
An intelligently assemble recital makes up Blue Skies. The disc opens with a whispery sensual "My Little Suede Shoes" paired with "Day by Day" that immediately engulfs its Latin roots, turning them upside down. A solid "Tin Tin Deo" shimmies and shines with Stefanopoulos dragging chords on the road ahead of Lerta's, teasing, coquettish delivery. The duo take the basic, "Hum Dum Blues," swinging and virtuosic from its simplicity to the pop- tranquil ballad of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress," the most perfect performance on a recording of the same. The two transcend the title piece by downshifting into low gear, maximizing the dense momentum of the performance. A great accomplishment.
Track Listing: Little Suede Shoes / Day by Day; Tin Tin Deo; Take Love Easy; Hum Drum
Blues; The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress; Blue Skies; Bye Bye Blackbird; Joy
Spring; Calypso Blues; My Funny Valentine; Why Worry.
Personnel: Alexandra Lerta: vocals; Vasilis Stefanopoulos: bass.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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