Natalie Cressman and Mike Bono grew up with music. Cressman started playing the trombone with her father, Jeff Cressman of Santana, when she was nine years old. Her mother, Brazilian jazz singer Sandy Cressman, was a life-long influence. And Bono started playing music when his mom put an acoustic guitar in his hands when he was six years old.
Fast forward to today, the duo is in the midst of a West Coast tour. They’re playing at 8:30 p.m. at the Naked Lounge in Sacramento.
Cressman started playing trombone with her dad and now she writes songs and sings.
"I've been singing since I was a little kid, my mom is a great singer and teacher. I really started singing seriously at the end of high school and college, then I started writing songs with lyrics and just kind of fell in love with that."
She's played as a sideman for a long time and recently transitioned to doing more solo work and playing in this duo with Bono.
"There's a lot of responsibility that comes with leading the music as a front man, that took a lot of time to grow into," says Cressman. "This is cool because we're both kind of leading and there's all this space to break out of time and feel each other's tempo that you don't really get in a full band setting. It's very exposed, but I think in a good way. I like the power that comes from just having two people playing music as the same time."
Cressman moves in and out of jazz and indie-rock vocally and then brings in the trombone while Bono backs her up with gentle guitar picking.
"The goal is to play something that is going to support her," says Bono. "Her vocals are so beautiful and stand so strong on her own - I'm just trying to find the best way to support her and have something that also has continuity to it."
Cressman talked about learning how to utilize the lower aspects of her range from her mother.
"She knows my voice because she knows her own voice really well at this point. I have that lower range that some people don't feel very comfortable singing - she told me to not be shy about putting things in that lower key. I've definitely taken that to heart in writing songs that have that lower richness."