Until this year, the term “force majeure” was a necessary safeguard in a business contract, but a truly rare occurrence.
As a line item in an agreement, it protects both parties from fulfilling obligations on the basis of extraordinary events and circumstances. Harpist Brandee Younger and bassist Dezron Douglas, brilliant artists with typically busy touring schedules, encountered that contract clause a lot this spring, as the pandemic lockdown closed venues and halted tours.
Their new duo album, Force Majeure — due out next Friday on the International Anthem label — speaks beautifully to that unsettled moment, and to this one. Compiled from a soul-affirming livestream series that they shared from their Harlem apartment, it’s a portrait of resilience, solidarity and reassurance. This is the album we didn’t know we needed, and it made for a natural topic of conversation on Jazz United.
Younger, a distinct voice on harp since her emergence on the New York scene, is the latest artist signed by Impulse! Records, as she recently discussed on The Checkout. Douglas, a first-call bassist and bandleader, has also been a groove guardian for the likes of Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane and Louis Hayes. In the podcast, we’ll reflect on Douglas and Younger both individually and as partner-collaborators, considering how recent events strengthened their public bond.
The warm resonance of their blend on bass and harp strengthens the healing power of the song selections on Force Majeure — familiar fare like “Sing” from Sesame Street, the Jackson Five hit “Never Can Say Goodbye,” and Sanders and Leon Thomas’ “The Creator Has A Master Plan.”
The album includes some banter between songs — in-jokes and teasing asides along with more poignant dedications, like the one that Douglas offers before John Coltrane’s “Wise One.” The sole original is a piece Douglas and Younger cowrote, and shared months ago for Jazz Night in America’s “Alone Together” video series. Titled “Toilet Paper Romance,” it was the valediction on every livestream — a bountiful dose of melody that lasts.
Force Majeure will be released on International Anthem on Dec. 4; preorder here.
For Further Reading:
- Brandee Younger, a Harpist Finding Her Way to Jazz, New York Times
- Harpist Brandee Younger is Ready for Her Closeup, Bandcamp Daily
- Dezron Douglas Visits Afternoon Jazz, WBGO
- Dezron Douglas: Before & After, JazzTimes