Dezron Douglas & Brandee Younger - Force Majeure. LP
Dezron Douglas & Brandee Younger - Force Majeure. LP
Black vinyl LP inside a heavyweight matte jacket, with IARC obi strip and dome, patterned inner-sleeve.
160-gram, pressed by Smashed Plastic in Chicago
Force Majeure is an uplifting suite of real, soulful comfort music – an album that cathartically encapsulates an all-too-familiar human experience of 2020. Featuring 11 pieces performed by bassist Dezron Douglas & harpist Brandee Younger across a series of live-streamed shows from their living room in Harlem, NY, the album was self-recorded by the duo using just a single microphone.
The same day Governor Andrew Cuomo shut down “non-essential” businesses throughout the state of New York, Douglas & Younger set up a window to the world that would prevail as a weekly musical reprieve over the devastating weeks and months to come. As the early effects of covid-19 plagued the citizens of New York City, Douglas & Younger did as we were all ordered to do — shelter-in-place. From their apartment in Harlem, their reflex as players and community-builders was immediate. Broadcasting via social media and spreading the word to friends and family, the duo hosted “Force Majeure: Brunch in the Crib with Brandee & Dezron,” a Friday morning live stream where they performed songs, said “hi” to friends tuning in, and passed a digital tip jar. The name “force majeure” — known to diligent contract-readers as a seldom-invoked bit of legalese that voids commitments in event of “extraordinary circumstances” — was, for Douglas & Younger, a reference to the sudden loss of livelihood that they and their musician peers suffered in the wake of covid-19.
“We vowed to become a part of the resiliency of this city,” says Douglas. “You can take the work away, but you can’t stop musicians from being creative. Live streaming is just a part of it. The world as a whole saw that arts & entertainment is an integral and vital part of this ‘service’ city. We, musicians and creatives, are as essential to this city as the MTA is. The NYC community responded with love and honesty on a high level. The expression became vital for people to make it through the day and, at the same time, listening and watching expression became vital.”
Bassist, composer, bandleader, and educator Dezron Douglas has established himself as a major force in contemporary creative music. A protégé of the great Jackie McLean, the Downbeat Magazine 2019 Rising Star is known for his work with Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane, Cyrus Chestnut, David Murray, Louis Hayes, and also with piano legends George Cables, Eric Reed, Mulgrew Miller and Benny Green. Douglas has recorded on more than 100 albums, contributing to the artistry of numerous bandleaders and maintaining an integral presence in the sounds of his peers, which include Keyon Harrold, Jonathan Blake, Melanie Charles, and Makaya McCraven. He is an active music educator, currently on the Jazz Studies faculty at NYU Steinhardt. He has released 6 albums as a lead artist and maintains a variety of projects that he uses as platforms for his compositions. His band, Black Lion, released their latest single “COBRA” in October of 2020.
Harpist, composer, educator, and concert curator Brandee Younger is known for her work with Ravi Coltrane, Moses Sumney, Lauryn Hill and producer Salaam Remi. The New Yorker has described her instrumental craft as “radiant playing ... as cogent on hip-hop and R&B albums as it is set against classical and jazz backdrops.” Her work often extends to illustrious heights, featured by Beyoncé in Netflix’s concert documentary Beyoncé: Homecoming as well as Quincy Jones and Steve McQueen in 2019’s “Soundtrack of America” series. She recently joined the harp faculty at NYU Steinhardt and the New School in Manhattan.
When Alice Coltrane passed away in 2007, her son Ravi Coltrane asked Younger to perform at the memorial. Her performance “moved me and everyone in attendance from the first glissando,” Coltrane told the New York Times. “No harpist thus far has been more capable of combining all of the modern harp traditions — from Salzedo, through Dorothy Ashby, through Alice Coltrane — with such strength, grace and commitment.” Younger recently signed to Impulse! Records, with whom she has a new album planned for release in 2021.
Douglas & Younger are long-time companions in life and music. The two East Coast natives met early in life and have accompanied each other, personally and professionally, through equally prolific careers. “Brandee and I met in college, University of Hartford, Hartt School of Music, back in 2001,” remembers Douglas. “Her practice room was across the hall from mine. We began a friendship instantly through music and Black culture. We would jam a lot in college when she wanted to practice ‘Jazz.’
She was a Classical Harp and Music Business double major and she was heavily influenced by Jazz and Black Music so I sort of became an outlet for her to walk on the wild side in the eyes of University and Classical politics.” To this day, Douglas and Younger often accompany each other in the ensembles they lead, respectively. The two have played together in the Ravi Coltrane Quartet, with The Baylor Project, and in sessions for Makaya McCraven’s 2018 release Universal Beings, on which they are both featured artists. Force Majeure is their first release as a duo.
All music arranged by Brandee Younger & Dezron Douglas;
except "Inshallah" arranged by Dezron Douglas.
Dezron Douglas - double bass, bass guitar, voice
Brandee Younger - harp, voice
Recorded between March and June 2020, at Dezron & Brandee's apartment in Harlem, New York.