Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Dave Douglas Twofer - NYC Jazz Record

Trumpeter Dave Douglas has released over 35 records
under his own name in the last 20 years. Greenleaf
Music, Douglas’ own label, has been a home to his
recordings since 2005, including the overwhelming
recordings of every note played during a six-night run
at the Jazz Standard in 2006. Here the label has dug
into Douglas’ back catalogue, releasing two albums
originally on Arabesque, recorded in 1997 and 1998.

Both sets feature the same tight quartet - Chris
Potter (saxophone), James Genus (bass) and Ben
Perowsky (drums) - with the 2-hour, 20-track collection
entirely composed by Douglas. These two recordings
are a fitting pair, highlighting the state of Douglas’
pursuits in such a brief timespan despite three other
albums being released in between.

“I was trying to see how much harmony I could
get into the game with just three notes,” states Douglas
in the liner notes. How much is a funny question. A lot
isn’t quite an answer to it. Three melodic voices can
just about make three harmonic relations but which
and when is where Douglas makes it his own.

Magic Triangle, which came out in 1997, was
Douglas’ 11th album and opens with “Everyman”, a
playful tune that has Douglas and Potter sharing the
same breaths, almost finishing each other’s sentence, a
trait that lasts throughout the recordings. “Padded
Cell” gives Perowsky more room to splatter across his
cymbals, taking things to the outer reaches of the
record. “Kisangani” puts a mute in Douglas’ horn for a
dirge-like spell aided by long saxophone tones and
sputtering kit. The album closes with “The Ghost”; far
from a wandering spirit, the track is a hard-hitting
launching point for the entire band including a nice
propulsive jaunt between Genus and Perowsky.

Leap of Faith, Douglas’ 15th album, followed his
major label release on RCA, Soul on Soul. The band
picks up right where they left off, a little more
aggressive and quickly digging into opening track
“Caterwaul” with more disjointed harmony while the
title track is a furious clatter that features Perowsky
fighting a swarm of bees behind his kit as Douglas
provides a merciless solo. The fairly straightforward
“Mistaken Identity” finds Douglas at his most gilded,
twittering over Potter’s engaging counterpoint. The
album closes with the goofily titled “Euro Disney”,
which offers up the classic Miles Davis “Theme”
ending, a fitting closure to an album that embraces
much of the bop crowd’s tight harmonic intimacy but
takes it into a future of driving drums and greater
harmonic freedom.

Dave Douglas @ NYC Jazz Record

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