While vocal groups are very common in pop music, jazz vocal groups have always been rarer. Duchess is a collaboration between singers Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner, and Melissa Stylianou, all of whom also have viable solo careers. The work that it takes to blend the voices of three lead singers together is not to be underestimated and they create an appealing group sound.
Live At Jazz Standard is at least the fourth Duchess CD since 2014. It has its good and bad points. The vocal ensembles sound quite attractive, each of the singers obviously believe in the project, and their repertoire is mostly comprised of vintage tunes.
On the minus side, some of the arrangements are a bit obvious. On the interpretation of the Boswell Sisters’ version of “Heebies Jeebies,” the four-piece rhythm section telegraphs the two tempo changes in such an exaggerated way that it takes away from the feel of spontaneity. At other times, it becomes a bit obvious that early jazz is at best a second language for some of the instrumentalists. Also, much of the dialogue left in between songs is not worth hearing more than once.
On the plus side, the singers are in excellent form on such numbers as “Swing Brother Swing,” “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon,” “On The Sunny Side Of The Street,” and “A Little Jive Is Good For You.” While they sometimes veer closer to the Andrews Sisters than the Boswells, they put on a good-humored and lively show, making Live At Jazz Standard worth picking up.