Dave Douglas: Unison
Dave Douglas (trumpet)
The Infinite (RCA Bluebird 63918)
Composed by Björk.
Recorded: New York, December 16-18, 2001
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
Dave Douglas stands alone as the most distinctive trumpeter on today's scene. His playing nods to comparatively minor trumpet greats like Lester Bowie and Don Ellis as much as to more-championed giants such as Freddie Hubbard or Clifford Brown. Possessor of an extremely pliable sound, Douglas's unique experimentations with timbre and tone humanize his playing, with bent notes, glisses, smeared half-valves, and atypical phrasing all contributing to his flexible, vocal-like quality. It's hard to imagine any other trumpeter having both the necessary technique and expressiveness to take on Björk, the eccentric and brilliantly quirky Icelandic singer. Abnormalities aside, Douglas's performance on "Unison" matches the vulnerability in Björk's lyrics: "Now I can't do this without you / I never thought I would compromise / Let's unite tonight / We shouldn't fight / Embrace you tight / Let's unite tonight." The band follows the trumpeter compassionately, cresting with an emotional catharsis that will undoubtedly send shivers.
Reviewer: Matt Leskovic