Dave Douglas: Circular
Dave Douglas (trumpet)
Magic Triangle (Arabesque 0139)
Recorded: Brooklyn, NY, May 12-13, 1997
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
The Dave Douglas quartet with Chris Potter, which later became a quintet with pianist Uri Caine and now features saxophonist Donny McCaslin, has probably been the trumpeter's most "conventional" group. The music is inspired by Miles Davis and '60's Blue Note artists such as Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Lee Morgan, and Andrew Hill, while also acknowledging Herbie Nichols, Booker Little, Anthony Braxton, Julius Hemphill, and Ornette Coleman. The compositions, arrangements, and improvisations are all thought-provoking and unclichéd, and result in music generally accessible to those listeners unburdened by pre-determined expectations.
The track "Circular" no doubt gained its title from the revolving nature of the theme, with concise stand-alone phrases that connect logically and seamlessly, and reach a satisfying resolution. The subsequent playful interplay between Douglas and Potter leads to the tenorist's sweeping, authoritative solo, his attack alternating between punched-out bursts of notes and long, convoluted runs, as Douglas enters at times in a role similar to a comping pianist. Douglas' improv takes a typical approach, embellishing and expanding upon a variety of motifs in an inviting and unassuming manner. Note the pithy Douglas-Potter vamp that frames a riveting bass solo by Genus. The return to the theme by Douglas and Potter gives way to a dazzling contrapuntal interlude, augmented by Perowsky's vigorous, sympathetic drum work.
Reviewer: Scott Albin