If the name Acute Inflections sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve most likely seen or heard them perform at past VUE parties, including last year’s yacht event and most recently, at Sojo Spa Club. The duo is made up of long-time friends Elasea Douglas [vocalist] and Sadiki Pierre [upright bass player] and together, the two work to combine their musical roots and love of jazz. For years Acute Inflections has been performing at corporate events and weddings up and down the Northeast, receiving massive amounts of praise for their captivating sound and elegant ensemble. VUE recently got the chance to catch up with these two and chat about how they got started and what live music means to them.
How did each of you get started with music?
ED: I’ve been singing since childhood and then I went to a high school that had a music conservatory within it. That’s where I did voice, classical and a little bit of jazz training. In college I took theater but always kept singing, it just followed me. I sang at church and in outside groups that would travel throughout the Northeast. The big turn around was when I did a Broadway show and I think I ended up booking it because of my singing.
SP: I played bass in high school and a little bit in college but I never went to school for it or anything. After college I was a pilot for awhile and then moved onto working for a mortgage business. I knew I didn’t want to be a professional musician so eventually I gave it up. I hadn’t played for about 10 years before I met her.
Where did you guys meet?
SP: My friend asked if I could go with him to her [Elasea] show because he was interested in one of the actresses so I went as sort of a wingman. That’s when I got to see eL sing and we met afterwards. We became friends, started hanging out and one thing led to another. She claimed bass was her favorite instrument and she was the one who encouraged me to get back into it.
What made you two want to join forces?
SP: She was having a showcase with another band and she thought it would be cool to have an upright bass instead of an electric one so she asked me to play. Well, most of the band members didn’t show up that night and at one point, it ended up just being the two of us on stage and people seemed to enjoy it. So that’s really how it happened, sort of by accident. After the show people kept coming up to us and saying that they’d love to have this at weddings and different events so we decided to make a thing of it and here we are.
Whose idea was it to incorporate jazz and how do you go about reworking these songs?
ED: Though we do jazz covers, we also do jazzy renditions of all songs, anything from rock, reggae, to Top 40. Our claim to fame is taking those songs either by request or just watching what’s trending and performing them in our own jazzy way. Arrangement wise, I’d say Sadiki takes the lead in that regard. He’s the more ‘rhythmic’ one and me, I’m more of the ‘melodic’ one. He’ll propose an idea and I can immediately hear the melody that goes along to it. That’s where we come together in a sense.
What do you think live music adds to an event? How does it compare to using material that’s pre-recorded?
SP: I don’t think it compares at all, you know, seeing it all happen in front of you and knowing that it’s very customized and a one-time thing. Sometimes she’ll improvise and work in things that are currently going on, almost like freestyling like a rapper would do. It’s very engaging and the look and the sound of it adds a level of sophistication to events that a recording or DJ wouldn’t be able to match. Even live bands can be too loud and have too much energy. We fit that middle ground where if you want to pay attention to it you can, and if you don’t, it’s not annoying or obnoxious.
What types of places do you guys usually perform at?
SP: We’re at the biggest luxury hotel in Manhattan [Lotte New York Palace] on Monday and Tuesday nights so we get a lot of exposure there. I’d say we mostly perform at corporate events second to weddings, galas, fundraisers and product launches. We also have relationships with event planners, wedding planners and venues throughout the Northeast.
Do either of you have a favorite part of performing?
ED: For me, I like how every time is different. Although we might do the same song every day, it’s continuously alive. Your body feels different today than it did yesterday, the temperature, your outfit, there’s different people in the room—all of these elements create for something that only takes place this way, this time, once.