Dave Douglas: Spring Ahead
Dave Douglas (trumpet)
Stargazer (Arabesque 0132)
Composed by Dave Douglas.
Recorded: Brooklyn, NY, Dec. 30, 1996
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
Douglas recorded three "tribute" CDs in the '90's, to Booker Little (In Our Lifetime), Wayne Shorter (Stargazer), and Mary Lou Williams (Soul On Soul). If you listen to them one after another, a certain interchangeability might be discerned, given that the very same sextet plays on each and Douglas's composing and arranging styles give many tracks an unmistakable character reflecting the trumpeter's many overall influences out of both the jazz and classical worlds. From conventional harmonies to atonality, from expansive melodic sections to fluctuating, episodic passages either spacey or animated, from incisive individual solos to compelling contrapuntal engagements, Douglas leaves his personal stamp on all that he conceives and executes.
"Spring Ahead," the first track on Stargazer, would have fit nicely on any of Shorter's '60's Blue Notes. James Genus's loping but determined bass line leads to Uri Caine's ostinato pattern and then the lighthearted, oscillating theme, with its subtle shifts in tempo and dynamics. Joey Baron's sprightly stickwork accentuates the prevailing tension and release, as well as the unpredictability of direction and movement. Just as Douglas resolutely surges into his solo, Chris Speed's clarinet and Josh Roseman's trombone briefly visit for an inquisitive three-way dialogue. Douglas now enters the meat of his improv, his ripe tone undergoing a variety of tonal transformations that enrich a series of hurtling, interconnected extended runs. Caine follows in a straight-ahead bluesy vein before introducing more provocative, progressive voicings. Douglas, Speed, and Roseman resume their earlier swirling counterpoint until the theme's appealing contours are once again explored.
Reviewer: Scott Albin