words and photos by Brett Auerbach
It only took one evening for New York based- vocal trio, Duchess to make their mark in Akron after performing not one, but two seemingly flawless sets at Blu Jazz+ last month. Reputable jazz vocalists, Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardener and Melissa Stylianou tastefully flaunted their endless harmonizing skills in an evening full of swing music and witty humor.
“I may be the first musician in history to say this, but can I get a little less reverb…” Hilary Gardener humorously stated after performing their first song. And by all means should her opinion be taken seriously, as even the finest of musicians would fail to catch a sour note during their set.
Duchess is a completely authentic experience—no special effects or tampering required for this bunch, simply just a three piece band to accompany them. Oh! And the occasional kazoo of course!
The sound of Duchess is best comparable to a 50 – year scotch, comprised of all the essential ingredients left to simmer and recreate all that was great into something unknown. Smooth yet undeniably powerful and capable of taking your soul hostage for the evening. Reflecting a hodgepodge of classical and contemporary influences, Duchess pays homage to the greats while still presenting an original image.
Speaking of powerful, this bunch is not shy in addressing social issues and incorporating political stances into their music. A large part of their commentary throughout the evening focused on gender inequality. As Hilary Gardner introduced the band, she began trolling media outlets by humorously integrating the key differences found in music reviews between men and women.
In a digital world full of auto-tune, vocal phasers and processors, finding tone in one’s voice has become a technical skill set opposed to natural. Contrary, those equipped with raw, unadorned, no-nonsense talent are a dying commodity. Therefore, catching a live Duchess show should be on your “to-do list” next time they are in town.