Four.

We've come a long way, baby.

We've come a long way, baby.

Like everybody else in this season of turkey and tinsel, we're celebrating the holidays...but we're also celebrating our band birthday: #girlongirlharmony is four years old!

Time flies when you're having fun, which we most certainly are, and it's hard to believe that four years have elapsed since our first magical gig in November, 2013. We checked out some important milestones for four-year-olds and are happy to report that Duchess is right on track:

Important 4-Year-Old Milestones...

Enjoys doing new things. True! Just this year, we debuted our podcast, Harmony & Hijinks, featuring a bunch of interviews with fun and fascinating friends, as well as a track-by-track meander through our second album, Laughing at Life. Keep an eye (and ear!) out for the second season, which will begin airing in January, 2018!

How many choruses of "Santa Baby" are there, anyway?

How many choruses of "Santa Baby" are there, anyway?

Sings a song from memory. Also true! Well, most of the time. Some of our tunes have an awful lot of lyrics.

Cooperates with others. Again, most of the time. Hilary can be a bit of a tyrant when it comes to Christmas repertoire, and Melissa occasionally requires some persuading to share her chocolate stash. 

Understands the idea of counting. Wait, hold on--isn't that what drummers are for? KIDDING. We've been doing lots of counting--all the way up to 4 beats per measure--as we shed our new holiday tunes in anticipation of a flurry of December gigs! Amy, who counts off all our tunes on our gigs, is the best counter, though.

Pours, cuts with supervision, and mashes own food. NAILING IT.

Hops and stands on one foot up to 2 seconds. Okay, full disclosure: we haven't actually tried to do this. But we do sing (long) gigs wearing sky-high stilettos. #overachievers


On a more serious note, the jazz world lost a giant this month when we said goodbye to Jon Hendricks. The swinging, agile, erudite brilliance of Hendricks's lyrics and musicianship changed vocal jazz forever. With gratitude and love, then, we'll close this post with a 1961 Lambert, Hendricks & Ross performance of "Four," backed by the Les McCann trio.

FOUR (music: Miles Davis, lyrics: Jon Hendricks)

Of the wonderful things that you get out of life there are four
And they may not be many but nobody needs any more
Of the many facts making the list of life, truth takes the lead
And to relax knowing the gist of life, it's truth you need

Then the second is honor and happiness makes number three
When you put them together, you know what the last one must be
Baby so truth, honor and happiness, add one thing more
Meaning only wonderful, wonderful love that'll make it four!

 

 

 

DUCHESS turns 3!

Three years ago this month, Amy, Hilary, and Melissa began singing together in three-part harmony. We had not yet dubbed ourselves "DUCHESS" (in fact, we hadn't really even considered the possibility that this fun, one-off gig performing Boswell and Andrews Sisters transcriptions might lead to something more), but we were ready to laugh, sing, and have a blast. To our surprise and delight, the packed room at Greenwich Village's 55 bar greeted us with warmth and enthusiasm, and lo!...a trio was born.

An early DUCHESS gig, where it all began: NYC's 55 bar.

An early DUCHESS gig, where it all began: NYC's 55 bar.

The past three years have been quite an amazing journey, both literally and figuratively. Our self-titled debut album was released less than a year after our first gig, and generated enough buzz to take us throughout the United States and, indeed, halfway across the globe.

Our first-ever tour was with the swinging, hilarious cowboys and cowgirl (hi, Pinto Pammy!) of CowBop, along Route 66 in Oklahoma. Subsequent trips took us to New Orleans, Montana, California, Seattle, Boston, and upstate New York. Some of those gigs were in funky jazz clubs, while others were headlining slots at major jazz festivals.

We've performed abroad, too, taking the stage in far-flung locales like the wilds of Canada and sunny Jerusalem, Israel. And, of course, our home base of New York City has more than held its own in terms of great gigs: Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Rubin Museum, Jazz Standard, and our original stomping grounds, the 55 bar, have all supported our signature #girlongirlharmony over the past few years.

We've made some amazing new friends along the way, too. Meeting our friends and fans (a.k.a. our Duchess Honeybuns) in person is always a thrill. And what a joy it's been, making music with the likes of Jeff Goldblum, Janis Siegel, Vince Giordano, Wycliffe Gordon, Bruce Forman, Jane Monheit, Kat Edmonson, and more.

Friends!

Friends!

If you know anything about us (or if you just follow us on Instagram), you know that food is a big deal to us. Like, a really big deal. The meals we've eaten have ranged from the super-fancy to...well, to Bugles eaten by the fistful in lackluster hotel rooms, and we've loved every bite. However high- or low-brow, and whatever the setting, we've learned that food is made more delicious by the presence of loved ones and lots of laughter.

Yeah, we like to eat.

Yeah, we like to eat.

Looking ahead, our second album, Laughing at Life, is slated for a February 2017 release, and we're already booking tour dates in the U.S. and Canada. And, we've got a top-secret new project in the works that we will be sharing with you all very soon. And, in the more immediate future, we are gearing up for a Thanksgiving weekend performance in the Hamptons, followed closely by two shows at the Jazz Standard, where we'll be joined by a couple of very special guests: Christian McBride and Kat Edmonson!

While we've only been singing together for a few years, it feels like we've known one another forever, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Of course, none of the fun and success of the past three years would be possible without the guidance and expertise of our producer and label-head, Oded Lev-Ari. And our band is made up of some of the swingingest, most good-hearted guys in shoe leather. We feel incredibly fortunate to have such an incredible group of friends and musicians in our corner.

Forgive us. Perhaps we're just feeling a little sentimental because November is not only our band-iversary, it's the start of the holiday season, when we all get misty-eyed and prone to reminiscing. But we're just so grateful to one another, and to all of you, for embarking on this wild and wonderful harmonic odyssey that is DUCHESS. We can't wait to see you and thank you in person sometime soon.

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How We Spent Our Summer Vacation

Fall is in the air and, like many of you, the gals of Duchess are in "back-to-school" mode, so to speak. It's always tough to say goodbye to the lazy, sun-dappled afternoons of summertime, but we've missed our Duchess Honey Buns (that's YOU!) and we've got a lot on our to-do list as we prepare for the release of our second album, "Laughing at Life," and some upcoming shows.

So, as September draws to a close, we find ourselves once again meeting every week at Amy's place for snacks, strategies, and singing (and alliteration, apparently). Since we've been on hiatus for a couple of months, we thought it would be fun to bring our fans--and each other--up to speed on our respective summer holidays. Read on, and then please leave a comment and tell us about how you spent your summer!

What was your favorite summer experience?

Amy: My summer was full of such great adventures with my family. We went to Canada to visit my family and [my husband] Oded’s family came to visit us from Israel. We had so many great trips and adventures. I think my favorite thing was taking our kids to The Newport Jazz Festival to see Anat Cohen play the music she and Oded worked on and later recorded. It was such a thrill to introduce them to so many friends and colleagues and the community that I feel so lucky to be a part of.

Hilary: I spent an idyllic long weekend in Montauk with my husband. For four days, we lazed at the beach, ate fresh lobster, and watched the sun set over the bay. We played badminton and laughed ourselves silly. Then, in early September, my mother and I spent a couple of weeks traveling in Italy: Venice, Lucca, Siena, and the little paese where I spent my foreign exchange many years ago. I’m so thankful for the chance to travel and spend time with my mother, and it was heaven to see my dear Italian friends and re-immerse myself in the Italian language.

Melissa: Every August, we do a 3-4 week tour to visit family in Ontario and Quebec, and this year's tour was epic. We had a great time at the cabin on Sturgeon Lake, especially. Before we embarked on the trip to Canada, we visited our friends at their family place on Islesboro Island, Maine, and that was a perfect way to start the vacation tour. It's an incredible place.

Amy's summer highlights...Newport Jazz Festival with the family, lakeside and poolside relaxation.

Amy's summer highlights...Newport Jazz Festival with the family, lakeside and poolside relaxation.

What was the best thing you ate this summer?

Amy: I’m the girl who always forgets to take pictures of the food because I’m too busy eating it. I’m also the girl with the horrible memory. So…even though we had seafood by the sea, my favorite childhood french fries and gravy, and Kawartha Dairy ice cream, my favorite food was the pizza my sister and brother-in-law made for the whole family. Delicious pizza and a chaotic and delightful family hang.  

Hilary: A perfect baked potato and sweet corn on the cob with a lobster dinner in Montauk made me finally understand what all the lobster fanaticism is about! Utter simplicity and perfectly married flavors. Pumpkin and ricotta-stuffed tortelli in Lucca, sun-warmed tomatoes from my Italian host father’s garden, and gelato (eaten daily) were my favorite culinary moments from my Italy travels.

Melissa: We spent ten sunny days (and one rainy one) at [my husband] Jamie's family cabin, and the Reynolds family is all about good food. Jamie really wowed us all with his Chicken Provencal and, I have to say, my two-layer chocolate cake was pretty yummy, too!

Melissa's summer highlights: family time and delicious eating! (Melissa, PLEASE make that cake for Duchess!)

Melissa's summer highlights: family time and delicious eating! (Melissa, PLEASE make that cake for Duchess!)

Favorite summer beverage?

Amy: Besides beer, which is completely predictable and Canadian of me, the other drink of choice this summer was an Aperol Spritz. Delicious.

Hilary: Oh my god, Amy, ME TOO! Aperol Spritz, hands down. It’s so festive and tasty. [Aperol is a cousin of Campari, but not nearly as bitter, with flavors of orange, rhubarb, and herbs. The spritz is a signature Venetian cocktail, made with Aperol, prosecco, sparkling water, and a slice of orange.]

Melissa: I like beer, wine, scotch, etc., but in the heat of summer, I've discovered this thing called a Grapefruit Radler, which is a German wheat beer mixed with Grapefruit juice. It's so yummy and low-octane. Now that it's getting chilly, I'm all about the scotch again, but it was perfect in August!

Hilary's summer highlights: Venezia, Aperol Spritzes in Lucca with mom, and a picture-perfect lobster dinner in Montauk.

Hilary's summer highlights: Venezia, Aperol Spritzes in Lucca with mom, and a picture-perfect lobster dinner in Montauk.

Summer soundtrack?

Amy: I started running a bit this summer. No, no one was chasing me. For exercise. My favorite thing to run to is the Hamilton soundtrack. I only get a few tunes in, but it’s the perfect combination of motivating and funny with great grooves. I am not giving away my shot!

Hilary: Siembra, a Fania record by Ruben Blades and Willie Colon. I am literally incapable of sitting still when that record comes on, and Ruben Blades is seriously one of the greatest singers I’ve ever heard. Also, a gorgeous Brazilian record by Ary Barroso and Dorival Caymmi called Um Interpreto e Outro.

Melissa: Morning Phase, by Beck. Jamie put this on and I loved it. I had only heard one track before and it was just the perfect thing to listen to during our 8-hour drive days.

What did you miss the most while you were on summer hiatus?

Amy, Hilary, Melissa: Each other!

What are you most excited about for fall?

Amy: Fall!!! It’s my favorite time of year. I love my sweaters and my plaid shirts and my awesome fall/winter shoes that support my feet properly instead of all these flat summer sandals. Also, #girlongirlharmony.

Hilary: Autumn cooking is my favorite cooking, with its long, slow braises and heartier fare. I have missed my sweaters and boots, too. I’m really excited about a few new projects on the horizon, especially the new Duchess CD, and more singing and laughs with my girls!

Melissa: Using my Hudson Bay Company wool blanket, a little piece of home that is perfect for fall. Oh, and cooking lots of warming stews and apple crumbles and such. And hot toddys. And sledding. Ok, I'm getting ahead of myself a bit. I'm so glad to be back in the groove and can't wait to see what crazy hijinks we get up to this fall/winter while we prep for the upcoming release!

Back in the #girlongirlharmony groove...first rehearsal after our summer hiatus!

Back in the #girlongirlharmony groove...first rehearsal after our summer hiatus!

Swinging into summer...

The sun is high in the sky, the days are long and the time is right for barbecuing and beach days. Duchess loves summertime, and we kicked off the season last month with a tour in gorgeous Northern California.

Our tour began at the Jazz on the Plazz festival in Los Gatos (local impresario Michael Jacobi booked us to open the festival after catching our set last year at the Monterey Jazz Festival). We were immediately enchanted by Los Gatos' picturesque town square and charming shops. On our first night in town, we performed a short set for a small group of sponsors and board members.

The next day, we piled in the car and paid a visit to KCSM, where we talked and laughed on the air with hostess-with-the-mostess Alisa Clancy. Later that afternoon, Melissa and Hilary did an interview with Michael Jacobi on KCAT TV, chatting about early musical influences and the origins of Duchess. Unfortunately, Amy wasn't able to do the interview, as she was visiting a local ENT; she'd come down with a case of laryngitis. The timing couldn't have been worse, but Amy, in her signature fashion, persevered with calmness and humor (and, not incidentally, she sounded great, laryngitis notwithstanding!).

The festival officially opened that evening when we took the stage in the aforementioned town square, the "plazz" from which the Jazz on the Plazz festival takes its name. We had a fabulous crowd, a swinging band, and perfect weather. The next morning, we enjoyed massages and facials at a local spa (thank you, Jazz on the Plazz!) and thus rejuvenated, headed for Santa Cruz.

Scenes from beautiful Los Gatos! Top: Duchess and our wonderful pianist, Michael Cabe, at the opening night festivities. Middle left: Hilary smells the roses and Melissa crosses the street safely in scenic Los Gatos. Middle right: the gals strike a pose in front of the festival poster. Bottom left: a successful show! Bottom right: with the delightful Alisa Clancy at KCSM, post-interview.

Scenes from beautiful Los Gatos! Top: Duchess and our wonderful pianist, Michael Cabe, at the opening night festivities. Middle left: Hilary smells the roses and Melissa crosses the street safely in scenic Los Gatos. Middle right: the gals strike a pose in front of the festival poster. Bottom left: a successful show! Bottom right: with the delightful Alisa Clancy at KCSM, post-interview.

A short drive took us to Santa Cruz, where we spent the morning at the beach. We strolled the boardwalk and walked on the beach as the fog dissipated and gave way to blue skies and sunshine sparkling on the ocean. A rather intensely competitive round of pirate-themed miniature golf at Neptune's Kingdom followed, after which we made our way to our hotel.

The day was so lovely, we couldn't resist taking a dip in the hotel pool before heading to Kuumbwa, where we played to a full house of hip fans and incredibly warm, gracious staff (it's not every day that a venue brings artists a delicious fruit and cheese plate for sound check!).

A day at the beach in Santa Cruz, followed by a quick swim in the hotel pool. Work hard, play hard, we always say!

A day at the beach in Santa Cruz, followed by a quick swim in the hotel pool. Work hard, play hard, we always say!

Scenes from Kuumbwa. All performance photos by r.r. jones. (What do you suppose we're all so serious about in the bottom left photo?)

Scenes from Kuumbwa. All performance photos by r.r. jones. (What do you suppose we're all so serious about in the bottom left photo?)

Sausalito beckoned the next day, and we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge in eager anticipation of our debut at Jazz & Blues by the Bay, a summer series put on by the city of Sausalito. We grabbed an early dinner of burgers and truffle fries (!!!), strolled down the town's main drag, and then performed to over a thousand enthusiastic listeners. We'd been warned about cool weather after sundown, but the temperature stayed balmy and we had a blast meeting lots of new fans after our show. The hero of the evening was our new friend Nathan, who not only loaned us his keyboard for the evening, but drove it to Sausalito himself, and hung out with us all evening. Thank you, Nathan!!!

Sausalito moments (clockwise from top)...a gorgeous bandstand; the California flag flying high over a fountain in the center of town; the gals with our hero Nathan (he brought us a keyboard to use in our show!); the iconic Golden Gate Bridge; our rock star selfie in front of the huge crowd!

Sausalito moments (clockwise from top)...a gorgeous bandstand; the California flag flying high over a fountain in the center of town; the gals with our hero Nathan (he brought us a keyboard to use in our show!); the iconic Golden Gate Bridge; our rock star selfie in front of the huge crowd!

We closed out our tour with a return visit to the Sound Room in Oakland. We had a free afternoon, so we parked the car in Jack London Square in Oakland and took the ferry over to San Francisco, where the farmers' market was in full swing. A couple of porchetta sandwiches and a few scoops of Humphrey Slocomb ice cream later, we were ready to take the stage!

A perfect day in sunny San Francisco and Oakland!

A perfect day in sunny San Francisco and Oakland!

We couldn't have asked for a more perfect start to our summer! We're indebted to our dear friend and pianist, Michael Cabe, as well as Bay Area-based John Wiitala (bass) and Greg Wyser-Pratte (drums) for making so much wonderful music with us. Our thanks go out, as well, to Andrew Gilbert, for helping spread the word about our gigs in beautiful Northern California.

We'd love to see you on July 9th, when we take the stage at the Triad for a night of #girlongirlharmony! We're shooting some video to promote a few different show concepts and, therefore, will be performing three shows in one: songs by iconic girl groups throughout history, some holiday favorites, and we'll tip our collective (proverbial) fedora to the Rat Pack, too!

It's summertime, and the livin' is easy...we wish you a season filled with sun, fun, lazy afternoons, and lots of laughs. We'll update you soon with details about our upcoming sophomore album, Laughing at Life!

 

 

It's Spring (Hey)!

Spring is springing all throughout New York City...the tulips and lilacs are in full flower and the trees are almost completely leafed out.  As it turns out, we've got a project about to burst into bloom, too: our second CD!  We launched a KickStarter campaign in mid-March, and 120 Duchess Honey Buns banded together to bring our project to life!  We had a ton of fun making special videos and KickStarter-specific artwork (below) throughout our campaign; you can check it out here.

Raising the funds is a hugely important part of making a new recording, but even more important?  The music, of course!  Oded Lev-Ari, the "Charlie" to our "Angels," has been arranging like mad, and we're trying to learn the new songs as quickly as he's arranging them!  If you were in the audience during our 55 bar residency in March and April, you heard us trying out a few new tunes destined for immortality on our upcoming album: Stars Fell on Alabama, Swing, Brother, Swing, and Laughing at Life (you can check out a little snippet, below, from a quick rehearsal we did while on tour in Montana last weekend).

Oh, yeah!  We went to Montana last weekend, where we performed two sold-out concerts surrounded by mountains and verdant forests.  We loved the fresh air and beautiful scenery, and our digs at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake were rustic-chic and cozy.

Clockwise from top left: Melissa and Hilary arriving in Montana; the vista from our lakeside lunch; our poster at the hotel's concierge desk; a fabulous painting of Las Tres Duquesas (we have no idea what the actual name of the painting is, but we could see ourselves in those outfits on horseback, for sure!).

Clockwise from top left: Melissa and Hilary arriving in Montana; the vista from our lakeside lunch; our poster at the hotel's concierge desk; a fabulous painting of Las Tres Duquesas (we have no idea what the actual name of the painting is, but we could see ourselves in those outfits on horseback, for sure!).

Our promoters, Miriam Singer and John Simpson, reunited us with our friend, Seattle-based pianist Bill Anschell, along with Seattle bassist Michael Barnett.  We had a fabulous time hanging out and playing music with Bill and Mike, sharing an abundance of swinging music, laughter, and (obviously) beer.

Clockwise from top left: Bugles (the official snack of DUCHESS...now, can we get a sponsorship deal, please!?), the gals enjoying the clear mountain air; teatime by the fireside at the hotel; Melissa running a rehearsal with Bill and Mike.

Clockwise from top left: Bugles (the official snack of DUCHESS...now, can we get a sponsorship deal, please!?), the gals enjoying the clear mountain air; teatime by the fireside at the hotel; Melissa running a rehearsal with Bill and Mike.

A huge highlight of our trip was meeting Ann Clark Terry, a member of the Clark Sisters, a.k.a. the Sentimentalists, who sang with Tommy Dorsey in the 1940s.  Ann just celebrated her 94th birthday, and she was so kind and effusive after the show.  We were thrilled to meet her.

Top: DUCHESS with John Simpson & Miriam Singer, who brought us out to Montana.  Bottom left: DUCHESS with Ann Clark Terry, of the Clark Sisters, a.k.a. the Sentimentalists.  Bottom right: Our ursine friend in the hotel lobby bidding us adieu.

Top: DUCHESS with John Simpson & Miriam Singer, who brought us out to Montana.  Bottom left: DUCHESS with Ann Clark Terry, of the Clark Sisters, a.k.a. the Sentimentalists.  Bottom right: Our ursine friend in the hotel lobby bidding us adieu.

The weeks ahead will find us rehearsing, as we prepare for our May 18 return to the Jazz Standard, followed by two days of recording at our beloved Sear Sound.  Our spring is off to a pretty swinging start...you could say that we're enjoying life on the Sunny Side of the Street.  And speaking of The Sunny Side of the Street, we're going to tip our hats to the lovely Ann Clark Terry and the Clark Sisters/Sentimentalists by closing this post with their recording of that very tune.  Happy spring!

Shalom! DUCHESS' Israel tour recap

Last month, we had the thrill and delight of traveling to Israel for the first-ever Jerusalem Jazz Festival.  In typical DUCHESS fashion, we packed a lot of music, fun, and (of course!) great food into the trip.

When it comes to travel, it's often said that "getting there is half the fun."  To be honest, this time around, getting there was just...well, getting there.  We stocked up on snacks and, ahem, in-flight libations and steeled ourselves for the ten-hour flight ahead.  We learned an important lesson en route: sparkling wine doesn't belong in a can.

NOTE TO SELF: nothing good can come of sparkling wine that comes with a straw. 

NOTE TO SELF: nothing good can come of sparkling wine that comes with a straw. 

Amy, Oded, and their kids had flown to Israel a few days prior, so the day we were due to land, the Lev-Ari/Cervini clan hopped a train and traveled from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Reunited at last, the gals of DUCHESS did what we always do after a long day of travel, and facing a packed performing schedule: we put on some lipstick and went out to dinner.  Avishai Cohen, the artistic director of the jazz festival, had reserved a table at Machneyuda restaurant, where we shared an epic family-style Israeli dinner with other musicians slated to perform.  Jet lag was quickly forgotten as platter after platter of incredible food arrived.  The music got progressively louder, and before too long, patrons and staff alike were dancing on tables, banging pots and pans, and lighting sparklers. 

The next day, Avishai and the festival director, Eyal Sher, met up with us at our hotel and took us on a walking tour of Jerusalem, including the Machane Yehuda market.  That night found us at the Israel Museum, where we performed our first-ever all-ukulele set (!!!) in a pop-up concert. 

Scenes from Jerusalem, including a panorama of the Tower of David, Mount Oliva, and the Old city; festival director Eyal Sher leading our tour, and a big poster advertising the festival.

Scenes from Jerusalem, including a panorama of the Tower of David, Mount Oliva, and the Old city; festival director Eyal Sher leading our tour, and a big poster advertising the festival.

Bottom left: Amy with artistic director and trumpet player extraordinaire, Avishai Cohen.  Bottom right: festival director Eyal Sher, pianist Edward Simon, DUCHESS, and Avishai Cohen.

Bottom left: Amy with artistic director and trumpet player extraordinaire, Avishai Cohen.  Bottom right: festival director Eyal Sher, pianist Edward Simon, DUCHESS, and Avishai Cohen.

The next day we performed an acoustic set in the museum's gorgeous modern art gallery, singing for a full house and surrounded by stunning works by Chagall, Picasso, Miro, and many other iconic artists.  On the third day of the festival, we played our main show in the museum's auditorium.  We were backed by a fantastic band of Israeli musicians, including our old friend (and erstwhile New Yorker), bassist Barak Mori.  The audiences were warm and appreciative, even spontaneously singing along to "Que Sera, Sera," and melting our hearts in the process.

Selected paintings from the Israel Museum's modern art gallery.  Not a bad backdrop for a performance!

Selected paintings from the Israel Museum's modern art gallery.  Not a bad backdrop for a performance!

Post-performance photos at the Israel Museum.  Top row: Amy and Avishai (L); the gals of DUCHESS, post-ukulele pop-up concert (R).  Middle row: post-acoustic set in the modern art gallery with bassist Barak Mori, clarinetist Anat Cohen, and pianist Gadi Lehavi (L); the full band, pre-show, photo by Yossi Zwecker (R).  Bottom row: DUCHESS with Avishai (L); Hilary clowning around with Barak (R).

Post-performance photos at the Israel Museum.  Top row: Amy and Avishai (L); the gals of DUCHESS, post-ukulele pop-up concert (R).  Middle row: post-acoustic set in the modern art gallery with bassist Barak Mori, clarinetist Anat Cohen, and pianist Gadi Lehavi (L); the full band, pre-show, photo by Yossi Zwecker (R).  Bottom row: DUCHESS with Avishai (L); Hilary clowning around with Barak (R).

Mid-performance at the Israel Museum.  Photo: Ran Biran.

Mid-performance at the Israel Museum.  Photo: Ran Biran.

Believe it or not, amidst all the singing and eating we were doing, we managed to squeeze in a little bit of sightseeing.  Hilary and Melissa spent an incredible afternoon in Jerusalem's Old City, guided by Orit, whose homemade hyssop tea, pistachio halvah, and detailed narrative made for an afternoon that was delicious in every way.

Clockwise, from top left: a souk in the Old City; the Western Wall; road signs to ancient places; a bread oven that smelled like heaven.

Clockwise, from top left: a souk in the Old City; the Western Wall; road signs to ancient places; a bread oven that smelled like heaven.

More scenes from an unforgettable day in Jerusalem's Old City.

More scenes from an unforgettable day in Jerusalem's Old City.

On our last night in Jerusalem, the festival hosted a beautiful dinner at Menza restaurant, where we ate (and ate, and ate) while chatting with other festival musicians.  It was a perfect farewell to Jerusalem and the inaugural Jerusalem Jazz Festival.

Clockwise, from top left: Eyal Sher, giving a speech at the festival's closing dinner; Team DUCHESS; Amy, deep in conversation with bassist Ricky Rodriguez and drummer E.J. Strickland; DUCHESS with David Sanchez and his band.

Clockwise, from top left: Eyal Sher, giving a speech at the festival's closing dinner; Team DUCHESS; Amy, deep in conversation with bassist Ricky Rodriguez and drummer E.J. Strickland; DUCHESS with David Sanchez and his band.

Our last day in Israel took us to Tel Aviv, where Oded took us on a tour of his hometown.  We turned our faces to the sun as we walked along the beach, then wandered the winding, stone streets of Jaffa.  Afterward, we enjoyed a delectable seafood lunch at the waterfront restaurant Manta Ray and took in a few more sights before heading to the airport. 

A sunny day in Tel Aviv; scenes from Jaffa.

A sunny day in Tel Aviv; scenes from Jaffa.

Glimpses of Tel Aviv...don't worry.  We won't forget to be awesome.

Glimpses of Tel Aviv...don't worry.  We won't forget to be awesome.

Maybe it was the tasty Israeli Cheeto-like snacks, maybe it was the pocket rockets of vodka we bought at duty-free before boarding, or maybe it was the simple fact that we had a row to ourselves, but our eleven-and-a-half-hour flight back to New York City was downright pleasant, even if it did feel somewhat endless.

Snacks, booze, and an 11+ hour flight?  WE GOT THIS.

Snacks, booze, and an 11+ hour flight?  WE GOT THIS.

We had an extraordinary time performing in Israel.  Thank you to Avishai Cohen, Eyal Sher, our lovely tour manager/singer wrangler Dahlia, and the Jerusalem Jazz Festival for an unforgettable trip.  See you next time, Israel!

2015...DUCHESS' Year in Review

Well, here we are: at the close of 2015 and on the cusp of a new year.  As we reflect on the past twelve months, we are overwhelmed with gratitude for so many opportunities to bring #girlongirlharmony to our friends and fans around the world.

From intimate jazz clubs to major festival stages, we've had a jam-packed year of touring. 2015 took us across the United States a couple of times, with tours in the Pacific Northwest and California, as well as gigs on the East Coast.  We also did a couple of tours in Canada, and even performed at the first-ever Jerusalem Jazz Festival in Israel, just a few weeks ago (a full post on our Israel adventure is coming soon!).  

At the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, post-show, with our amazing band and our special guest, the great clarinetist, Anat Cohen!

At the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, post-show, with our amazing band and our special guest, the great clarinetist, Anat Cohen!

But, as we say in our rendition of (We) Love Being Here with You, "...home for us is NYC; there's no place we would rather be!"  This year, we've had some amazing shows right here in our own backyard: a sold-out CD release at the Jazz Standard, sold-out sets at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola (Jazz at Lincoln Center), a great night at the Rubin Museum of Art, and a very special show at 55 bar in Greenwich Village, where we celebrated our two-year "girliversary" with a packed house of our closest friends and supporters, our "Duchess HoneyBuns."

We were delighted to learn that our debut CD made a few "Best of 2015" lists:  Straight No Chaser included our album in his "A Few of My Favorite Things" podcastJazzColumbus.com named DUCHESS one of the top 10 records of the year, Thomas Cunniffe at jazzhistoryonline.com included our album in his 2015 faves, and North Country Public Radio's Joel Hurd also named DUCHESS as one of his favorite albums of the year.  Here at home, we topped the NYC Jazz Record's list of 2015's Best Vocal Releases (below).  

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Yes, it's been quite a year in the world of DUCHESS, and we are very excited for what 2016 will bring!  (Hint: we're working on new songs and new arrangements...could a new CD be far behind?)  Thank you for being a part of a fantastic 2015.  We wish you safe and happy New Year's celebrations, and we'll see you in 2016! 

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Giving thanks: Duchess celebrates 2 years of #girlongirlharmony

Maybe it’s because November is the second-to-last month of the year, or maybe it’s just because of the Thanksgiving holiday, but the month seems to naturally lend itself to reflection on the past, gratitude for the present, and excitement about what lies ahead.  The gals of DUCHESS are feeling especially thankful after a November jam-packed with travel, great gigs, and a very special anniversary (girliversary?).

We had a very fun—if whirlwind—tour last month in chilly-but-lovely Alberta, Canada.  After a brutally early morning and long day of travel, we toasted our arrival in Edmonton with beers in steins so large they literally required both hands to lift them.  That night, we performed at Yardbird Suite and had a ball singing for a warm, enthusiastic audience.  Yardbird Suite is famous for its green room walls, which boast the autographs of jazz luminaries from all over the world, including Clark Terry and Diana Krall, among hundreds of others.  We were thrilled to add our signatures, although finding a blank space to sign was a bit of a challenge!

A pre-show selfie at Edmonton's Yardbird Suite; the club's stage and famous green room walls; buckets o'beer; Hilary & Michael, accidentally color-coordinated for the drive to Calgary.

A pre-show selfie at Edmonton's Yardbird Suite; the club's stage and famous green room walls; buckets o'beer; Hilary & Michael, accidentally color-coordinated for the drive to Calgary.

The next morning, our intrepid driver (not to mention pianist and dear friend) Michael Cabe took the wheel of our rental car and drove us all the way to Calgary.  We barely had time for a bite to eat before our gig at the Ironwood Stage as part of the JazzYYC Festival.  Everyone in the house—audience and musicians alike—was reeling from the day’s reports of the terror attacks in Paris, and sharing our music provided us all with a measure of solace.  The next morning, we were up at dawn (again) and at the airport.  Two flights later, we were home safe and sound, thankful to be with our loved ones and getting ready for our next round of gigs.

L: the Ironwood Stage in Calgary, Alberta. R: backstage, pre-show.

L: the Ironwood Stage in Calgary, Alberta. R: backstage, pre-show.

Less than a week after returning from Canada, we returned to our musical home, the 55 bar, to celebrate the second anniversary of girl-on-girl harmony.   We’d been advertising a “secret” birthday show, and the show’s location was only disclosed to fans on our mailing list.  The house was packed, and our ace band (Michael Cabe, Matt Aronoff, Willard Dyson, and Jeff Lederer) swung like crazy.  A couple of special guests joined in on the fun, too: trombonist Josh Brown joined forces with Jeff Lederer on saxophone, and just like that, we had a horn section!  Then, our pal Janis Siegel added some exquisite harmonies on “Que Sera, Sera.”  We even held a Duchess trivia contest, with Duchess Honey Buns as the prizes!  A good time was had by all. 

Clockwise from top: the 55 bar "marquis," welcoming DUCHESS back home; with our pal Janis Siegel; a famous Duchess Honey Bun; the Canadian contingent: Amy, Josh Brown, & Melissa.

Clockwise from top: the 55 bar "marquis," welcoming DUCHESS back home; with our pal Janis Siegel; a famous Duchess Honey Bun; the Canadian contingent: Amy, Josh Brown, & Melissa.

On Sunday, November 21, WBGO’s Michael Bourne brought us out to Newark to be his guests on his fantastic weekly show, “Singers Unlimited.”  Michael is witty, erudite, and endlessly knowledgeable about the world of vocal jazz, and we loved spending time with him.

DUCHESS and WBGO...a match made in heaven!

DUCHESS and WBGO...a match made in heaven!

We closed out the month at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, making a guest appearance with the incredible trombonist, trumpeter, and vocalist Wycliffe Gordon.  Sweeping views of Central Park in all its autumnal splendor, two sold-out sets, and hanging out with an incredibly swinging, soulful group of musicians…what a way to kick off the holiday season!

DUCHESS loves Wycliffe...what a magical evening of music at Dizzy's!

DUCHESS loves Wycliffe...what a magical evening of music at Dizzy's!

Yes, we do indeed have much to be thankful for…and, while we’re counting our blessings, we also want to extend our gratitude to our friend Michael Steinman, who wrote about our anniversary and recent performance at the Rubin Museum of Art on his wonderful blog, JAZZ LIVES.  Thank you, Michael! 

We wouldn't be able to travel and perform without the love and support of our friends and fans.  Wherever you are, and however you celebrate, Amy, Hilary, and Melissa wish you a very happy, healthy holiday season. 

Photo credit: Jeff Evans.

Photo credit: Jeff Evans.

California knows how to party!

The gals of DUCHESS hit the ground running after our August hiatus: our jaunt way out west to sunny California was absolutely amazing.  We had a blast swinging with Cow Bop in Los Angeles before heading to the Bay Area for a gig in Oakland and a workshop at the Jazz School in Berkeley.  Our tour was capped with our debut at the Monterey Jazz Festival along the rugged Northern California coast.  

Of course, no DUCHESS tour would be complete without a little excitement right out of the gate. Melissa and Hilary barely made their flight when, after an excruciatingly long and slow security line at JFK, they discovered they had to take a jitney (a JITNEY!?!?) to their gate.  Picture, if you will, two chick singers running frantically to their gate at 7:30 am, boarding in the nick of time.  Then, picture Amy, smiling and waiting patiently in her seat, having already procured Shake Shack breakfast sandwiches for everyone so there was sustenance, post-unforeseen-morning-cardio.  Whew!

Hallelujah!  All three DUCHESS gals made the flight!

Hallelujah!  All three DUCHESS gals made the flight!

We landed in Los Angeles, got our bags, picked up the rental car, and gazed in wonder at the palm trees against the blue, blue California sky.  Then, we did what any self-respecting New Yorker does upon arriving in LA: we headed straight for In-N-Out for some Animal Style burgers and fries.  Okay, yes, and a milkshake, too.

Melissa, our champion designated driver, and Amy, navigator (navigatress?) extraordinaire, piloted us through the hills of Sierra Madre, where we were warmly greeted by our hosts and dear friends, Bruce Forman and Pinto Pammy, of Cow Bop.  We reminisced about last year's Route 66 tour as we sipped margaritas and ate (what else!?) chips and guacamole in their sunny front yard, surrounded by succulents of every shape, size, and hue.

After that welcome bit of R&R, we headed to Rockwell, where we made a special guest appearance with the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, led by none other than Jeff Goldblum!  It was a madcap evening full of laughs and we were so happy to be a part of the fun.  Reggie Watts also came by to get a dose of girl-on-girl harmony.  All in all, our first night in the city of angels was a rousing success!

A star-studded night for DUCHESS at Rockwell!

A star-studded night for DUCHESS at Rockwell!

The next morning, we woke up and strolled into the mountains with Bruce, Pammy, and their sweet dog Joey.  The breakfast we ate at Mary's that day was unforgettable: eggs benedict and a poached egg atop potatoes au gratin with a poblano cream and fresh scallions.  Thus fortified, we did some rehearsing for our Vitello's gig that night, backed by Bruce himself, and the lads of Cow Bop.

Rule #1: No Whining!?  That's our kind of place!

Rule #1: No Whining!?  That's our kind of place!

Following our all-acoustic set at Vitello's E Spot Lounge, we high tailed it over to Seven Grand, where we may have sipped some whiskey while Cow Bop brought down the house.  All three members of DUCHESS sat in: Melissa wowed the crowd with her elegant, swinging rendition of "I'm Beginning to See the Light," while Hilary revisited her country roots with "Your Cheatin' Heart."  Then Amy got the joint jumping with her take-no-prisoners version of "Route 66."  We've said it before, and we'll say it again: DUCHESS LOVES COW BOP!

We were sad to leave LA, but gigs up north beckoned, so we packed our bags and headed to the airport the next morning and hopped a quick flight to San Francisco, where we were greeted by our always-dapper, always-delightful pianist, Michael Cabe.  Ain't he suave?

A few scenes from Oakland and Berkeley.

A few scenes from Oakland and Berkeley.

Our first Bay Area gig was at the Sound Room in Oakland.  What a ball!  We were thrilled to have a great crowd, and the team at the Sound Room (Robert, Karen, and Carey) made us feel so welcome.  The food and wine were fabulous, the audience was enthusiastic, and our Bay Area bassist (John Wiitala) and drummer (David Rokeach) were VERY swinging.  

The next day, we taught a vocal workshop at the Jazzschool Community Music School in Berkeley.  The three singers who joined us were fantastic: beautiful voices, unique styles, and deeply personal approaches to singing.  It's safe to say that DUCHESS left feeling inspired!

Top left: our AMAZING singers from our Berkeley vocal workshop!  Top right: the fabulous team behind Oakland's very hip jazz club, the Sound Room.  Bottom: our poster at the Jazzschool in Berkeley.

Top left: our AMAZING singers from our Berkeley vocal workshop!  Top right: the fabulous team behind Oakland's very hip jazz club, the Sound Room.  Bottom: our poster at the Jazzschool in Berkeley.

Our friend Matt Wilson put us in touch with his friend, Chef Paul Canales, of Duende restaurant in Oakland, and we decided to treat ourselves with some incredible Spanish food for our last night in Oakland.  Exquisite cocktails, house-made jamon, fideua with aiolli, steak, and a personal tour of the restaurant from the chef himself?  Can we just say...olé!?  

How could this tour possible get even better, you ask?  Well, the next day found us driving along the coast en route to Monterey.  We arrived at the Hyatt Grand Regency and spotted Chris Botti in the lobby.  Then, we checked into our rooms and prepared to take the stage at the Monterey Jazz Festival that evening.  

Monterey merch! (Can you spot us on the official festival t-shirt?) 

Monterey merch! (Can you spot us on the official festival t-shirt?) 

Top left: Amy talking down the charts with Paul.  Top right: the view from the Garden Stage.  Bottom: mid-performance in Monterey!

Top left: Amy talking down the charts with Paul.  Top right: the view from the Garden Stage.  Bottom: mid-performance in Monterey!

Our buddy, Jazz at Lincoln Center baritone saxophonist Paul Nedzela joined us for our set on the Garden Stage, and we sang our hearts out for an appreciative, wonderful crowd.  We headed over to the Amoeba Records tent for a CD signing, then closed our amazing California tour in the beer garden, already thinking about when we can head out west again for more food, fun, and girl-on-girl harmony.

DUCHESS hopes to see you again very soon, California!  Thank you for an amazing tour!

DUCHESS hopes to see you again very soon, California!  Thank you for an amazing tour!


So long, summer...a look back in pictures!

Here we are, already over a week into September, and the gals of DUCHESS are preparing to head west!  We can't wait to be reunited with the wonderful Bruce Forman and Cow Bop in L.A. next week, and we're also excited to make a cameo with Jeff Goldblum's Mildred Snitzer Orchestra while we're in town.

Then, we'll hop a flight up to the Bay Area for a swinging gig at the Sound Room in Oakland and a vocal workshop at the Jazzschool in Berkeley, followed by our debut at (drum roll, please!) the Monterey Jazz Festival!  Check out our calendar for all the details on our upcoming tour.

Yes, we're ready to jump back into the busy-ness that autumn brings (we had a wonderfully relaxing August), but it's always a little bittersweet to see summer end.  Here, then, is a photographic look back at July, which was jam-packed with travel, laughs, and, of course, lots of #girlongirlharmony.  

We celebrated the 4th of July out at Kingsborough Community College's Hot Summer Nights concert series in Brooklyn, where we took to the stage for some classic Andrews Sisters classics with the George Gee Swing Orchestra

Left: DUCHESS, flanked by the dapper and swinging vocalist & lindy hopper John Dokes and bandleader George Gee. Top right: Hilary and George strike a pose.  Bottom right: DUCHESS swinging their version of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."

Left: DUCHESS, flanked by the dapper and swinging vocalist & lindy hopper John Dokes and bandleader George Gee. Top right: Hilary and George strike a pose.  Bottom right: DUCHESS swinging their version of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."

Mid-July, we hopped a flight out to sunny Seattle, where we were met with some of the warmest hospitality any band has ever received!  The trip was made possible through the generosity and support of honorary Duchess Mira Frohnmayer, and our dear friends the Nelsons housed us, fed us, and even held a dance party in their home!  

We had an absolutely incredible time singing at Tula's Jazz Club in downtown Seattle (thanks to Paul deBarros' amazing write-up in the Seattle Times, we had a sold-out house!) , followed by a magical evening in Tacoma at Pacific Lutheran University's "Jazz Under the Stars" series.  We closed out our trip with an elegant private party at Station 7 in Seattle.  Our band of Seattle all-stars was helmed by the wonderful pianist Bill Anschell, a longtime friend and associate of Hilary's.  We hope we get to play with him again soon!

A sold-out crowd at Tula's Jazz Club in Seattle's hip Belltown neighborhood.  We are very thankful to Paul de Barros at the Seattle Times, who gave our performance a great write-up.  Photos by Jim Levitt.

A sold-out crowd at Tula's Jazz Club in Seattle's hip Belltown neighborhood.  We are very thankful to Paul de Barros at the Seattle Times, who gave our performance a great write-up.  Photos by Jim Levitt.

Some moments from our gig at PLU's "Jazz Under the Stars."  Top left: the traditional DUCHESS pre-gig selfie.  Top right: DUCHESS with our dear friend, Mira Frohnmayer, whose generosity made the tour possible.  Bottom: Mid-song in the beautiful outdoor amphitheater.

Some moments from our gig at PLU's "Jazz Under the Stars."  Top left: the traditional DUCHESS pre-gig selfie.  Top right: DUCHESS with our dear friend, Mira Frohnmayer, whose generosity made the tour possible.  Bottom: Mid-song in the beautiful outdoor amphitheater.

Post-gig at PLU, we made a run for some brewskis and nibbles with our singer-friend Wendy Gilles, herself a New Yorker and PLU alumna.  Then we headed back to the Nelson's place for a rocking dance party (Melissa and Tiana can be seen cutting a rug, above).  What a night!

Post-gig at PLU, we made a run for some brewskis and nibbles with our singer-friend Wendy Gilles, herself a New Yorker and PLU alumna.  Then we headed back to the Nelson's place for a rocking dance party (Melissa and Tiana can be seen cutting a rug, above).  What a night!

Scenes from a day off in beautiful Seattle!  We enjoyed a waterside beer and crystal-clear blue skies.  The breeze was cool, the sun was warm, and we had a perfect day.  The cherubs you see in the bottom-right photo are Eva and Maia, our wonderful hosts and dear buddies.  As you can tell from the photo, the girls are an absolute delight in every way.

Scenes from a day off in beautiful Seattle!  We enjoyed a waterside beer and crystal-clear blue skies.  The breeze was cool, the sun was warm, and we had a perfect day.  The cherubs you see in the bottom-right photo are Eva and Maia, our wonderful hosts and dear buddies.  As you can tell from the photo, the girls are an absolute delight in every way.

A few scenes from our last gig in beautiful Seattle: a private party at the elegant Station 7 on Capitol Hill, coordinated by our dear friend and fan, Lauralee Hagen.  We put on our finest pink-and-black frocks and had a lovely time!  DUCHESS loved making music with our Seattle pianist/bandleader and friend, Bill Anschell, seen in the top left-hand photo.

A few scenes from our last gig in beautiful Seattle: a private party at the elegant Station 7 on Capitol Hill, coordinated by our dear friend and fan, Lauralee Hagen.  We put on our finest pink-and-black frocks and had a lovely time!  DUCHESS loved making music with our Seattle pianist/bandleader and friend, Bill Anschell, seen in the top left-hand photo.

We were VERY spoiled on our Seattle tour...our first night in town, we were met with delicious fish tacos served in a serene backyard.  Before our Tula's gig, we ate at Le Pichet, where Hilary scarfed all the paté and everybody enjoyed some rosé.   Our last day in town, the Nelsons made us the most incredible, delicious brunch that any band has ever enjoyed on the road.  Tiana (shown in the bottom left photo) made this trip such a joyful and easy experience...we love you, Nelsons!  To cap things off perfectly, Mt. Rainier came out to bid us farewell.  What a tour!

We were VERY spoiled on our Seattle tour...our first night in town, we were met with delicious fish tacos served in a serene backyard.  Before our Tula's gig, we ate at Le Pichet, where Hilary scarfed all the paté and everybody enjoyed some rosé.   Our last day in town, the Nelsons made us the most incredible, delicious brunch that any band has ever enjoyed on the road.  Tiana (shown in the bottom left photo) made this trip such a joyful and easy experience...we love you, Nelsons!  To cap things off perfectly, Mt. Rainier came out to bid us farewell.  What a tour!

Upon our return to the East Coast, we immediately began preparing for our Jazz at Lincoln Center debut.  The New York Times gave us some love, including our show at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in their weekly gig listings, so we were thrilled to have a full house for both sets.  

Jazz at Lincoln Center debut!  Top left: Hilary gets glammed up.  Top center: the stage door to Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola.  Top right: a kooky band selfie, pre-gig.  Bottom: the NY Times listing for our show.

Jazz at Lincoln Center debut!  Top left: Hilary gets glammed up.  Top center: the stage door to Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola.  Top right: a kooky band selfie, pre-gig.  Bottom: the NY Times listing for our show.

We wound down a very, very busy couple of months with a relaxed outdoor gig in scenic Tarrytown, NY for the "Jazz at Lyndhurst" series.  Our friend Mark Morganelli helms this series, and he even joined us onstage with his flugelhorn for a lovely version of "Que Sera, Sera."  

Photos taken by our fans from the Jazz at Lyndhurst concert...a sunny, mild evening in a beautiful outdoor setting.  What a great way to close out our summer!

Photos taken by our fans from the Jazz at Lyndhurst concert...a sunny, mild evening in a beautiful outdoor setting.  What a great way to close out our summer!

Yes, from start to finish, DUCHESS has had an amazing summer!  We can't wait for our upcoming California tour, and there are some more exciting gigs and travel plans on tap for the fall and 2016, too!  Thanks for keeping up with all our adventures and we'll see you soon!

On the road again!

Yowza!  We had a wild and wonderful week of touring last month, and are gearing up to head west in just a couple of weeks.   We've been having a blast bringing girl-on-girl harmony to new friends and fans!

We began our summer tour in Ottawa, where we played the MainStage at the Ottawa Jazz Festival.  The day was bright and sunny, the crowd was huge, and our adrenaline was running high.  We were backed by Michael Cabe on piano and Toronto all-stars Dan Fortin and Ernesto Cervini on bass and drums, respectively.  The festival's programming director, Petr Cancura, happens to be a great saxophonist, so we were delighted when he joined us for a few tunes.  

And the kicker?  The Roots headlined the MainStage, and after our show, we kicked up our heels, had a couple of beers, and danced like crazy.

Scenes from the Ottawa Jazz Festival.  Clockwise from top left: the huge crowd; DUCHESS with Ottawa Jazz Festival Programming director and swinging sax player Petr Cancura; a selfie with the full band plus our producer/arranger, Oded Lev-Ari; photo evidence that DUCHESS opened for the Roots (!!!); a backstage beer, post-show.

Scenes from the Ottawa Jazz Festival.  Clockwise from top left: the huge crowd; DUCHESS with Ottawa Jazz Festival Programming director and swinging sax player Petr Cancura; a selfie with the full band plus our producer/arranger, Oded Lev-Ari; photo evidence that DUCHESS opened for the Roots (!!!); a backstage beer, post-show.

From Ottawa, we headed to Boston's Regattabar for a very fun evening.  This time, Paul Sikivie (bass) and Jared Schonig (drums) teamed up with Michael for a very swinging set of music.  Afterward, we bid Paul and Jared a fond adieu and began the long trek to Toronto.

The Toronto Jazz Festival was in full swing when we pulled into town, and we went straight from the car to an interview for Jazz FM 91.  We caught John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey's set at the beautiful Koerner Hall, and then hit the hay relatively early.  You see, we had a 5:00 am wakeup call the next morning.  At that ungodly hour, we schlepped to the Canada AM studios and met up once again with Dan and Ernesto for an early-morning performance of "A Little Jive Is Good for You."  The Canada AM "bump" put us at #7 on the  iTunes Canada jazz charts!  Later that evening (after a nice long nap, of course), we took the stage at the Jazz Bistro and were thrilled to see the great Freddy Cole in the audience.

Toronto Jazz Festival moments.  Top: a post-performance shot from the Canada AM studio; Bottom left: pianist Michael Cabe caffeinating at Canada Am; Bottom right: being interviewed for Jazz.FM 91.

Toronto Jazz Festival moments.  Top: a post-performance shot from the Canada AM studio; Bottom left: pianist Michael Cabe caffeinating at Canada Am; Bottom right: being interviewed for Jazz.FM 91.

The Rochester and Saratoga Jazz Festivals were next on our itinerary, and in both locales we were greeted with great audiences and a pair of pretty amazing photobombs, courtesy of Jared Schonig and Michael Cabe.

Left: drummer Jared Schonig giving us a gun show in Rochester.  Right: pianist Michael Cabe making a surprise appearance in our pre-gig photo at the Saratoga Jazz Festival.

Left: drummer Jared Schonig giving us a gun show in Rochester.  Right: pianist Michael Cabe making a surprise appearance in our pre-gig photo at the Saratoga Jazz Festival.

July will find us on the west coast: we'll be performing at Tula's Jazz Club in Seattle on July 15 and Pacific Lutheran University's Jazz Under the Stars on July 16th.  We'll be making our Jazz at Lincoln Center debut on July 22 when we take the stage at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, joined by surprise special guests, and we'll also be doing a show in scenic Tarrytown on July 23.  September will find us in California, performing in Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco before making our way to the Monterey Jazz Festival.  

It's a busy, happy time for the gals of DUCHESS, and we hope that your summer is also filled with laughs, music, and fun road trips.  In the meantime, here a few more photos of our June touring adventures.  We hope to see you at a show sometime soon!

Scenes from the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival: the line to get into our show was around the block and we were thrilled to get a standing ovation.

Scenes from the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival: the line to get into our show was around the block and we were thrilled to get a standing ovation.

At the Saratoga Jazz Festival.  The rain stayed away for our performance at the Gazebo Stage, and we were so excited to see our dear friends (and a couple of our biggest fans), Nancy and Jerry, at our performance.  Look at Nancy's shirt!  Pretty amazing.

At the Saratoga Jazz Festival.  The rain stayed away for our performance at the Gazebo Stage, and we were so excited to see our dear friends (and a couple of our biggest fans), Nancy and Jerry, at our performance.  Look at Nancy's shirt!  Pretty amazing.

The "Charlie" to our "Angels": Oded Lev-Ari

It's no secret that the gals of DUCHESS have a whole lot of love for our intrepid producer, arranger, and Anzic label head, Oded Lev-Ari (who also doubles as Amy's husband). Almost exactly one year ago, Oded brought his signature finesse, humor, and great ears into Sear Sound, and his expert guidance made recording the DUCHESS album (in just two days!) feel like a walk in the park.

Oded also arranged nearly every song on our album, from the swinging "I Love Being Here With You" to the poignant "P.S. I Love You."  Oded knows Amy, Hilary, and Melissa's voices so well that singing one of his charts is the musical equivalent of wearing a custom-made Halston gown. 

As the head of Anzic Records, Oded has partnered with Anat Cohen to create a family label that has released and supported not only the DUCHESS album, but also individual albums by each of the Duchesses, as well as an eclectic and soulful array of projects by a number of wonderful artists.  

The "Charlie" to our "Angels," Oded Lev-Ari.

The "Charlie" to our "Angels," Oded Lev-Ari.

Oded is such an important part of DUCHESS that we often refer to him as the "Charlie" to our "Angels."  But then, if you've been keeping up with our hijinks and harmony over the course of the past year or so, you probably know all of this already (and we'll leave it to you to decide which one of us is Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, and Kate Jackson).  

What you may not know, however, is that next week, Oded Lev-Ari is releasing his own debut album as a leader.  Threading comes out next Tuesday, April 28 on Anzic Records, and boasts an all-star cast: Jo Lawry and Alan Hampton take guest turns on vocals, and the chamber jazz-inspired 11-piece band includes Anat Cohen, Matt Wilson, Nadje Noorhuis, and Gilad Hekselman, among others.  

Oded seamlessly weaves his own compositions (and two iterations of Gordon Jenkins' gorgeous "Goodbye") together into a tapestry of music that is elegant and adventurous, cinematic yet deeply personal, and hauntingly beautiful.  The title track (available for preview HERE) is at once exotic and familiar, the type of timeless composition that inspires nostalgia for an as-yet uncharted place.

It's fitting that Threading's release coincides with the arrival of spring's audacious green buds and bright flowers.  Adding to the beauty of the world around him is Oded's specialty. 

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Get your copy of Oded Lev-Ari's Threading at the Anzic Store, iTunes, or Amazon.

Getting to know the gals of DUCHESS!

We can't believe it: our official CD release is SO CLOSE (February 17!), and our CD release show at the Jazz Standard is coming up on March 3!  We can't wait to share our signature blend of girl-on-girl harmony with you!

We've gotten some fantastic early press so far: DownBeat Magazine made us an Editors' Pick, All About Jazz gave our CD 4 stars, and we've even made headlines in Columbia, Missouri!  In the wake of all this amazing DUCHESS press, we thought it would be nice to introduce ourselves individually to you, so read on for some essential info and fun facts about Amy, Hilary, and Melissa.   




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Still craving more DUCHESS?  You're in luck!  Check out our brand new EPK!

We're good at parties...

The gals of DUCHESS love a good party, whether we're holding court at one of our own shows or making a guest appearance with our musician friends.  Lately, we've had lots of fun making cameos here in New York City with some terrific artists...what a way to close out 2014!

In recent weeks, we've had the honor of sitting in a couple of times with the legendary Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, erstwhile of HBO's hit series, "Boardwalk Empire."  We had an absolute ball hearing what Vince and the band brought to our charts.  Their sound is unmistakably authentic and swinging, and it was especially exciting to perform the "Heebie Jeebies" for Kyla Titus, who is the granddaughter of none other than Vet Boswell!   Kyla graciously gifted us with a signed copy of her new book, "The Boswell Legacy."  Another highlight was Wycliffe Gordon stopping by to tear the roof off the joint with his rendition of "Lazy River."  What a thrill!  

Top: DUCHESS with Vince Giordano; Bottom left: DUCHESS with Kyla Titus, Vet Boswell's granddaughter and the author of "The Boswell Legacy"; Bottom Right: DUCHESS with trombone star and vocalist Wycliffe Gordon and nightlife impresario Michael "Misha" Katsobashvili

Top: DUCHESS with Vince Giordano; Bottom left: DUCHESS with Kyla Titus, Vet Boswell's granddaughter and the author of "The Boswell Legacy"; Bottom Right: DUCHESS with trombone star and vocalist Wycliffe Gordon and nightlife impresario Michael "Misha" Katsobashvili

November 16 found us at Birdland, for the lovely and swinging Jane Monheit's Jazz Party. Jane is an enormously engaging performer, and she was incredibly gracious to us.  Each DUCHESS got to sing a solo tune and a duet with Jane.  As a group, we performed "Blah, Blah, Blah," and then Jane joined us for "Que Sera, Sera."  It was a magical evening. 

Onstage and behind-the-scenes with the always-delightful Ms. Jane Monheit

Onstage and behind-the-scenes with the always-delightful Ms. Jane Monheit

Melissa, resplendent at the Jazz Standard

Melissa, resplendent at the Jazz Standard

And speaking of magical evenings, our very own Melissa Stylianou celebrated the release of her newest CD, "No Regrets," at the Jazz Standard just a few days ago and, yowza, was it a great show!  Hilary and Amy joined Melissa for "Hummin to Myself" and "Que Sera, Sera."  We were too busy having fun to remember to get photos of us all onstage, but Amy was able to snap a great shot of Melissa bringing down the house (right). 

Will Friedwald has been a friend and supporter of girl-on-girl harmony since the early days of DUCHESS, and we jumped at his invitation to join an all-star cast of singers at Urban Stages last night in tribute to composer and lyricist Hugh Martin.  We performed a medley of songs from "Best Foot Forward," including "Skip to My Lou" and "The Three B's," both of which were arranged especially for us by our friend David Maddux.  Thank you, David!  

The legendary Marilyn Maye was the star of the show, and we had the singular thrill of being the only people present for her sound check.  Watching Ms. Maye work out her arrangements with the brilliant pianist Ted Firth was an unexpected gift and a true masterclass.  The gals of DUCHESS have decided that we would very much like to be Marilyn Maye when we grow up.  We were honored to meet her, hear her, and even join her (along with the entire cast) for a group sing-along of Hugh Martin's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."  

Clockwise from top: DUCHESS with Marilyn Maye; DUCHESS performing "Skip to My Lou"; a selfie with producer/emcee Will Friedwald; the finale: a sing-along of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"  (all photos except our selfie courtesy of Kevin Alvey)

Clockwise from top: DUCHESS with Marilyn Maye; DUCHESS performing "Skip to My Lou"; a selfie with producer/emcee Will Friedwald; the finale: a sing-along of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"  (all photos except our selfie courtesy of Kevin Alvey)

We've got one more guest appearance on the calendar for 2014, and it's a doozy!  Our dear friend and drummer Matt Wilson has invited DUCHESS to sing with his Christmas Tree-O at the Jazz Standard on December 16 and 17 (please visit our EVENTS page for tickets and more info).  There will be hijinks.  There will be hilarity.  There will be special guests.  There will most certainly be holiday cheer.  Pick out your fanciest hat and let us sing you into the holiday season!  Hope to see you there.

Love, DUCHESS

DUCHESS takes NOLA

DUCHESS is in love with New Orleans!  We were invited to take part in a Boswell Sisters Revue and decided to make the most of it and spend a few days in this city that we had never been to, but heard so much about. The day we left was Amy's birthday so we, of course, had some cake on the plane at 6:30AM and watched the sunrise, or slept.

We stayed at a completely charming house in the Bywater. Far enough away from the hustle and bustle to relax but close enough to feel like we were in the middle of things. The house had old appliances and beautiful antiques. It really felt like stepping into another time. We highly recommend this AirBnb to anyone who is traveling to NOLA. 

 

If you know the girls of DUCHESS, you know that we enjoy food. A lot. Priority number one for us when we arrived was to get some lunch. Oh boy. Just around the corner from our house was some of the finest barbecue in New Orleans at a place called The Joint. We ate, and ate, and ate and then had dessert. It was Amy's birthday, she made us. 

 

That first night, we had our very own show at the best jazz club in New Orleans, Snug Harbor.  The place was packed and we were honored to play with some of the best musicians in the city: Brian Seeger on guitar, Peter Harris on bass, Geoff Clapp on drums and our very special guest, Evan Christopher on saxophone and clarinet.  The folks at the club were really lovely and the audience…we can't say enough about how great the reception was. 

 

 

The band was so great that they even got into our famous "El Tigre" after show shot. You should check out their solo projects. We were blown away by their musicianship.

 

 

 

On Friday night, we took part in a wonderful event with groups from around the world paying tribute to The Boswell Sisters. Each group played 3 tunes and many new friendships were made.  We are so grateful to Kyla Titus for putting it all together and for inviting us to come down for this celebration.  Thanks also to our arranger/producer Oded Lev-Ari who stepped in last minute (at the sound check) to play piano for us.  Well done!   Read a bit about it in the WSJ and stream the entire show here. We come on at about the 2 hour mark but the rest of the groups are great, so check out the whole thing if you have time!

We had such a great time in New Orleans and can't wait to be back there again.  There are some more photos below for you to take a peek at.  Please follow us on Instagram for photos as they happen!  Thank you NOLA!!!!

Chocolate and pear panettone (excuse the bite, the birthday girl was hungry), and sunrise from the plane.

Chocolate and pear panettone (excuse the bite, the birthday girl was hungry), and sunrise from the plane.

The charming interior of our house on Dauhpine Street

The charming interior of our house on Dauhpine Street

I mean, come on.  So delicious.  

I mean, come on.  So delicious.  

Hilary warming up her Uke, a soundcheck shot, our poster outside the club and a shot from the gig.

Hilary warming up her Uke, a soundcheck shot, our poster outside the club and a shot from the gig.

Our "normal" and crazy photos.

Our "normal" and crazy photos.

Pre-show selfie, looking over charts with pianist/producer/arranger extraordinaire, Oded Lev-Ari, Amy and Oded at the after party and our new friends, The Hazelnuts from Israel.

Pre-show selfie, looking over charts with pianist/producer/arranger extraordinaire, Oded Lev-Ari, Amy and Oded at the after party and our new friends, The Hazelnuts from Israel.

DUCHESS and FRIENDS! (from left to right) With journalist, Will Friedwald; with our new friend, ; with Jason Patterson, owner of Snug Harbor; with our fan of the day, Mark Kirby who came all the way from NYC to hang with us; and with Kyla Titus, daughter of Vet Boswell.

DUCHESS and FRIENDS! (from left to right)
With journalist, Will Friedwald; with our new friend, ; with Jason Patterson, owner of Snug Harbor; with our fan of the day, Mark Kirby who came all the way from NYC to hang with us; and with Kyla Titus, daughter of Vet Boswell.

Random NOLA sights

Random NOLA sights

Some cool musical NOLA shots

Some cool musical NOLA shots

Impromptu photo shoot on the couch

Impromptu photo shoot on the couch

Good bye sweet house….see you next time.

Good bye sweet house….see you next time.