“Three fine singers…join together in swinging harmony to whip up music that traffics indelight…this fresh-voiced triumvirate plays it straight from the heart, leaving any trace of campor postmodern irony at the door.” -The New Yorker”These fine jazz vocalists…seem to be having the time of their lives singing together.”-Downbeat Magazine
Duchess – the trio of New York singers Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner, and Melissa Stylianou –channels the inspiration of vintage vocal trios into a package that’s utterly up to date, winninghearts far and wide with hard-swinging, sweet-toned harmonies and a palpable sense of fun.Duchess, said the Wall Street Journal, “understand(s) that swinging music goes hand in handwith an audacious sense of humor.”
Duchess’s embrace of merriment is not merely a by-product of the group’s natural joie devivre; their commitment to joy stems from a deeply rooted belief that in troubled times, sharingand spreading happiness is a necessary – even radical – act.
The trio’s third full-length release, Live at Jazz Standard, evokes the swing and swagger of theRat Pack, the tight harmonies of the Andrews Sisters, and a freewheeling comedic sensibility thatbelongs entirely to Duchess. The musical simpatico the singers have honed since Duchess’sinception in 2013 can be heard in the evolution of the arrangements by GRAMMY-nominatedarranger/producer Oded Lev-Ari. Recorded live over two nights at Jazz Standard in NYC, thealbum includes selections Duchess has performed for years as well as some never-beforerecordedversions of “Three Little Sisters,” “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen,” “Chattanooga ChooChoo,” and “Joseph, Joseph.” The trio’s sense of play and electric chemistry is evidenced inthe album’s “Dialogue” tracks. From start to finish, Live at Jazz Standard is the closest one cancome to being in the room at a Duchess show.
The New York City-based threesome made their recording debut on Anzic Records in 2015with the eponymous Duchess, channeling the 1930s inspiration of the virtuosic Boswell Sistersinto a wonderfully entertaining package. Their 2017 follow-up, Laughing at Life (Anzic),garnered rave reviews, prompting Downbeat Magazine to declare, “For a good time, callDuchess.” The trio released a critically acclaimed holiday EP, Harmony for the Holidays, in2018.
After successful tours throughout the United States, Canada, and Israel, the trio debuted inEurope in July 2019 with appearances in Copenhagen, Scotland, Wales, and England,culminating with a sold-out performance in London. Duchess enjoys an ongoing collaborationwith the Paul Taylor Dance Company and performed the music of the Andrews Sisters forTaylor’s seminal piece, “Company B,” at Lincoln Center in October/November 2019. The trio isalso featured on two of vintage pop singer-songwriter Kat Edmonson’s recordings: “OldFashioned Gal” and “Dreamers Do” (release date February 2020).
In addition to their recordings, the trio has released two seasons of a podcast, Harmony and Hijinks, in which the concept of harmony is a conversational springboard for discussions of cocktails, cuisine, fellow performers, chefs, and more. In a carefree, hilarious expansion upon alive Duchess show, the trio chats with jazz luminaries Cecile McLorin Salvant, Janis Siegel, and Jane Monheit, as well as actor Nat Wolff, and other eclectic guests. Listen here:www.harmonyandhijinks.com
Duchess has taken its place as one of the most admired vocal groups in the country, havingbeen included in the 2018 Jazz Times Critics Poll alongside Take 6, New York Voices, andManhattan Transfer.
Duchess has performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Jerusalem Jazz Festival, Monterey JazzFestival, Jazz Standard, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, and shared stages with ChristianMcBride, Anat Cohen, Kat Edmonson, Wycliffe Gordon, Jeff Goldblum, and more.
INFO AT A GLANCE: Duchess is:Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner, Melissa Stylianou with Michael Cabe – piano, Jesse Lewis – guitar. Matt Aronoff – bass, Jared Schonig – drums Produced by Oded Lev-Ari Tracks 2, 4, 8, 10, 12, 16 arranged by Oded Lev-Ari. Track 17 arranged by Wycliffe Gordon. Announcement by Josh Wynn. Recorded by Geoff Countryman and Tyler McDiarmid. Live Sound by Ryan Caruso. Mixed and Edited by Brian Montgomery. Mastered by Mark Wilder, Battery Studios, New York, NY Photos by Kyra Kverno. CD Design by: Ertac Uygun. Recorded live at Jazz Standard: May 7 & 8, 2019