At first I thought this album, with its fiery portrait of Bob Marley and the number 400 written with the bold colors of Jamaica, was a follow up to the Avery Sharpe 400 album I reviewed not too long ago. It is, after all, the same 400 we’re talking about, a very important number to remember in this day and age. When I started to listen to 400, the first track was just a vocalist with a double bass accompaniment, and I thought this the direction Sharpe was taking and then suddenly I realized no, I know this duo. They’re called Acute Inflections, and I know them and I really dig them.
The last time I reviewed one of their albums–400 is their fourth–it was 2019’s Electric Psychology. I wrote the whole review as if the name of the band was Electric Psychology and the name of the album was Acute Inflections, and I had to rush to make the corrections at the last possible moment. No, the name of the group is Acute Inflections, and both you and I should try to remember that in the future because they’re really good at what they do.
Acute Inflections is vocalist Elasea Douglas and bassist Sadiki Pierre. That’s it, and it’s all this duo needs. Pierre is an inventive and earthy bass player, not afraid to play rough, and he gets a surprising range of sounds from his instrument. Douglas has one of those sultry jazz voices, full of emotion and regret and the wisdom gained from a life heavy in both. There’s a sweetness to her tone and a pure power that might, under certain circumstances, turn her into different type of vocalist, but I’m so glad that she stuck with jazz. 400 is a little more than that: it contains seventeen Bob Marley tracks and is grounded in both jazz and reggae, a hint to the sheer talent of Acute Inflections.
Acute Inflections won’t distract you from the classic songs they are performing, everything from “Stir It Up” to “One Love” to “Waiting in Vain.” Stripping these immortal songs to their skeletons, however, can act as a clean slate, a new way to hear. (I really felt this with “I Shot the Sheriff”–I truly felt I understood the meaning of the song for the first time when I heard it on 400.) Even if that’s not enough to get you to check this album out, just think of how good this will all sound, an impressionistic yet adventurous double bass paired with a gorgeous female voice, and the sound quality is excellent.