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Adrianne Duncan: Gemini

Dan McClenaghan BY

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Adrianne Duncan: Gemini
It started out for Adrianne Duncan with classical piano. Then—as it happens so often—she fell in with a jazz crowd. On her Gemini, the vocalist/pianist/composer proves herself an adept and compelling artist in the jazz genre, one who isn't afraid to take some chances. And she has a way with words, penning lyrics in an off-the-beaten-path style on three of her songs—one offering is an instrumental—while throwing in Sting's "Roxanne" as a closer, a familiar tune than isn't initially recognizable, but turns on the "Oh yeah, that's that Police song" synapses about a minute in.

In the way of Paul Simon or Joni Mitchell, Duncan has a way of telling a story with her songs. On the beautiful and wistful "He's Not Quite You" expressing uncertainty and regret in a switch in lovers. Maybe it has already happened, maybe it is in the works. "Home At Last," expressing the deep sadness and bitterness of a naive dip into the land of love that has gone wrong, with terrific, cut-to-the-bone lyrics:

She waits for him in luxury of the finest kind,
He took her heart in usury, at first she didn't mind,
She sees him idling beside a pretty girl in red,
At first she'd have felt hurt, Now all she feels is dead.


The title tune serves as an instrumental centerpiece. The band is first rate—a couple of reeds and a rhythm section as polished as they come. It is a churning, odd-meter groover that exudes a smooth forward momentum, with a gorgeous and extended flute/clarinet conversation weaving in and out of the vibraphone/piano, bass/drums backdrop.

Then there is "Roxanne." It opens with an off-kilter, stutter-step vibraphone declaration, before a voice of strength, experience and compassion tells her that she doesn't have to put on the red light, doesn't have to put on that dress tonight. A particularly fine take on the tune, from a particularly promising jazz artist.

Track Listing

He's Not Quite You; Elijah; Gemini; Home at Last; Roxanne.

Personnel

Adrianne Duncan: piano; Dan Lutz: bass, acoustic; Jimmy Branly: drums; Nick Mancini: vibraphone; Katisse Buckingham: woodwinds; John Tegmeyer: clarinet.

Album information

Title: Gemini | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: LA Modern Jazz Series

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