Acute Inflections’ Let Go has instantly become one of my favorite demo albums because it’s so pure and simple–just a singer with accompaniment from a stand-up bass. It helps that Elasea Douglas has one of those sensational multi-octave voices that’s perfect for jazz without being exclusive to it, and bassist Sadiki Pierre shares equal billing here because his style of play is just as accomplished and just as imaginative. It also helps that the sound quality of this recording is extraordinary, and I’ve assembled a system with an incredibly low noise floor so I can just bask in this glorious music and remind myself of just how much I love my job.
This is Acute Inflections’ fifth album, and the third one I’ve reviewed. Each time I’ve taken an initial listen, I’m taken aback by how rewarding and fun this duo sounds. I’m not sure why Douglas and Pierre are so engaging, other than sheer (i.e., massive) talent, but there has to be a reason why such a simple equation would yield such high results. Each time I tell myself, “There should be more singer/bass duos out there, because this is so smooth and relaxing and yet somehow exciting and urgent.” For all I know, there are thousands and thousands of these duos, but this is the one that made me say oh yeah.
Acute Inflections’ Let Go isn’t as ambitious as the last album I reviewed from these two–400 turned out to be a tribute to Bob Marley, complete with thoughtful sociopolitical subtexts. Let Go has far more in common with 2019’s Electric Psychology, with thoughtful albeit stripped-down arrangements of standards. This time, however, Douglas and Pierre are picking a lot of tunes I’ve always loved such as Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy,” Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies” and Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” A handful of originals, such as the memorable title cut, reveal that Acute Inflections is adept at songwriting as well.
Sometimes I cringe at “innovative” or otherwise deconstructive arrangements of familiar songs, but not this time. For instance, check out Acute Inflections’ version of “We Are the Champions.” Do we need a jazz duo version of this Queen classic? Turns out, we do. In fact, it didn’t take long for me to forget the original and just sink into this one and accept it as legit. It’s entirely possible that the Aavik/Ansuz/Borresen system I have in place contributed to this magic spell–I’ve never experienced this low of a noise floor before. But that means I have Elasea Douglas and Sadiki Pierre right here, a few feet in front of me, anytime I want.