Blue Skies

Music Review

13 Jun 2014
Blue Skies
Formats also available: CD, FLAC DL

InDuologue is a young Greek duo Alexandra Lerta and Vasilis Stefanopoulos’s voice and double bass jazz project. When I heard this music for the very first time it reminded me Sheila Jordan’s projects with her long term bass partners Harvie Swartz and Cameron Brown. Or the one off simply titled Sheila, with Arild Andersen in 1975 when it all started. Later on I learned that she was their inspiration, so the smile she added under my post made sense. The concept is not new, but only a few have really managed to perfect it. The reason for that is simple, it is not about two musicians together. This kind of interaction requires a special, very intimate relationship and that particular blend of personalities just doesn't happen too often. Except Alexandra’s muse Sheila, whom I love deeply, my only another favourites are Nancy King’s recordings with Glen Moore from early nineties and Caecilie Norby’s with her husband Lars Danielsson, the great bassist himself.

Since then only a couple of young pretenders have managed to turn my head, like Larry Bjornson with Jessie Brown or Adam Oscar Storey and Kristen Haynes. And now Alexandra and Vasilis. All this happened over the last three years so it looks like we have an Impending Bloom, to paraphrase one of my most beloved titles. After this extended introduction you’re probably wondering what this music is like. Long story short: brilliant, just that. But it is so fantastic that it deserves further explanation. The way the duo works indicates clearly that they belong to Jordan’s school. But what they do is strictly their own. What always concerns me is the choice of lyrics. They are purely about sensitivity; how the artist identifies herself, what she wants to say, to whom she refers her reflection. And consequently to whom they are addressed.  It is a kind of personal PR or personality portrait. It becomes even more significant when it comes to the bass/voice duet or acapella. The song selection varies from jazz milestones to Irving Berlin’s title track, through Tum Drum Blues by Oscar Brown Jr, the man who put the words to Davis’ All Blues. We have Mort Dixon’s Bye Bye Blackbird, probably the most personal and important song in Sheila’s repertoire and to me Alexandra’s beautiful tribute to her. Nat King Cole’s Calypso Blues and Rogers and Hart’s My Funny Valentine, who doesn’t know those? As more modest examples we have Mark Knopffler’s Why Worry, a very original Dire Straights tune, Tierney Sutton’s Joy Spring written to Clifford Brown’s music and Jimmy Webb’s The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress. And most important I believe, Alexandra’s own poems and lyrics sung in open tuning.

The first is a dialogue in which her poem Lovejoy is used as a counterpoint to lyrics grouped under title Little Suede Shoes/Day by Day. This is a very touching contemporary response to songs from the past which are also true and do nothing but describe eternal longings and desires. Following another original song Tin Tin Deo continues to communicate with the listener on the very intimate edge, showing clearly how talented a songwriter/poet she is herself, not just a great and sensual interpreter. Give this album a serious listen, it is definitely going to be one of the best things that happen in music this year. As to Vasilis I apologise I didn’t have enough space to talk about his mastery and focus on the project and the voice, but he is the bassist, so I am sure he understands that. He also is an excellent player, in the same league as his predecessors and colleagues that are mentioned above.

Greg Drygala