Towards the end of Force Majeure, we can hear the couple formed by double bassist Dezron Douglas and harpist Brandee Younger arguing about how to pronounce the French title of their album. This borrowing from the language of Molière is perfectly suited to the duets they offer, since we are indeed in the presence of a major force. No longer able to make a living performing on stage because of the pandemic of the past year, the musical lovebirds had the idea of giving a series of live online performances from their nest. The present collection compiles precious moments from these weekly concerts.
The first pieces of the record show the couple’s filiation to the representatives of the most spiritual branch of the free jazz movement of the ’60s and ’70s. There are exquisite rereadings of pieces created by Alice and then John Coltrane and their friend Pharoah Sanders, all musicians who were on the famous Impulse! label, with which Younger has just signed. More surprising covers follow, with compositions popularized by the Carpenters, the Stylistics, and the Jackson 5. Then, before concluding with another John Coltrane piece and an original creation by the duo, two moments of pure grace await the listener: a beautiful rereading of Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work” and then, a version of Sting’s “Inshallah”, brilliantly performed by the double bassist in solo.
Force Majeure is an album that feels good, especially in these nebulous times we’re all going through. Harp and double bass are not instruments that meet often, but their union on this record hits the mark. Every note that Dezron Douglas draws from his bass is a bar that is added to a ladder that leads up to the heavens. Every tinkling of the strings that Brandee Younger plucks is a spark that illuminates our ascent. Visiting the starry firmament has never been easier.