Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dave Douglas & Keystone - Moonshine (Greenleaf, 2007)

Trumpeter and cornetist Dave Douglas continues to investigate the intersection of electronic and acoustic jazz and their relationship to film with his new album. On this disc he is joined by
Marcus Strickland on saxophones, Adam Benjamin on electric piano, Brad Jones on bass, Gene Lake on drums and DJ Olive on turntables and laptop. The tracks were inspired by “Moonshine” an unfinished collaboration by early film actors Rocsoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Buster Keyton. Olive's instruments along with the shifting tones of the electric piano and the solid bass and drum work give a firm if ever shifting platform for the band to improvise on. There is a strength and toughness here that hasn't been heard from a Douglas ensemble since the days of Freak In. Douglas writes in the liner notes that playing with Strickland is a “combative pleasure,” and that comes out in the recording as the two front line instruments challenge each other throughout. Highlights on this album are many, but include the title track which has a rollicking funky beat and dexterous improvisation. Perhaps this was inspired by the film, but there is a sense of fun and humor that that pervades the track that makes it so enjoyable. “Dog Star” has a mysterious vibe from the electronics and rhodes piano that sets a haunting vibe. “Married Life” slows the pace a bit and allows Douglas to improvise at length over a gently ominous groove. “Scopes” is a short track featuring some very strong tenor saxophone playing from Marcus Strickland, and “Kitten” cuts a near industrial rock groove. The diverse nature of the music and organic development of the music was by design. According to the liner notes, this was a spontaneous recording session recorded while the band was on tour in Ireland. The loose and open feel suits the band quite well and the end product is another very good album of modern jazz.

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