Dave Douglas: Soul on Soul
Soul on Soul
Dave Douglas (trumpet)
Soul on Soul (RCA Victor 09026-63603-2)
Dave Douglas (trumpet),
Joshua Roseman (trombone), Chris Speed (tenor sax), Uri Caine (piano), James Genus (bass), Joey Baron (drums).
Composed by Dave Douglas.
Recorded: New York, August 11-12, 1999
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Dave Douglas recorded three critically acclaimed tributes in the 1990's, to Booker Little (In Our Lifetime), Wayne Shorter (Stargazer), and lastly this one to Mary Lou Williams. Douglas agreed with Duke Ellington, who called Williams's music "perpetually contemporary" and "timeless," and had said that Williams "is like soul on soul." The trumpeter himself admired her "spirit of exploration" and said "there's a majesty, grace and beauty in her music...she never stopped growing."
Each of Douglas's nine compositions for the Williams project seemed to focus on a different aspect of the pianist's wide-ranging musical personality, using it as a springboard from which to expand. The title track appeared to be inspired by Williams's gifted arranging ability, which enabled her to create distinctively fresh and vibrant ensemble voicings. Yet the piece could just as easily have worked on Douglas's Stargazer, as the thematic material and group interaction come at you like a Shorter tune performed by the Miles Davis Quintet circa Miles Smiles. Trumpet fanfares, a swirling motif by the horns, and concise, pungent statements by Speed and Roseman with orchestrated responses by the other frontliners, all lead to Caine's salute to Williams. His solo emulates Mary Lou's early stride style, with dissonant interjections that would not have fazed her in the least as her playing evolved over the years. After the group introduces a new undulating melodic line, Douglas begins his solo with an "I Got Plenty of Nuthin'" quote, his narrative featuring oscillating extended runs and soulful exclamations. Roseman then solos with a forlorn air over Caine's repeated tone-rowed figure and Baron's vigorous cymbal shadings. The horns retrace the opening's post-bop textures to complete the cycle.
Reviewer: Scott Albin