Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dave Douglas and Brass Ecstacy - Spirit Moves (Greenleaf, 2009)

Trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas leads a number of bands, each of which explore a different facet of jazz. On this album, the spirit that moves much of the music is that of Lester Bowie - bandleader, trumpeter and iconoclast trickster. Bowie's "big tent" philosophy embraced everything from pop and R&B to classical and even country and Douglas follows that lead here, embracing diverse types of music in search of a creative whole. Joining him on this unique ensemble are Vincent Chancey on french horn, Luis Bonilla on trombone, Marcus Rojas on tuba and Nasheet Waits on drums. "This Love Affair" and "Mr. Pitiful" get a fun and funky New Orleans feel from the group, you can almost imagine the band marching down the streets during a parade and booting out these tunes. "Bowie", "Rava" and "Fats" are a trio of compositions dedicated to great trumpeters, Lester Bowie, the album's polestar, Enrico Rava, the great Italian trumpeter and Fats Navarro, the bebop master of the 1940's and 50's. The arrangements for these compositions are particularly interesting. The brass instruments, especially the tuba have a very alluring sound. Rojas' tuba was remarkably fascinating, playing bass lines and melodies and complementing Douglas and Bonilla's wonderfully gassy tones. There was a half hour long DVD included in the package which has nice grainy black and white footage of the band performing in studio. With this unusual ensemble it is nice to get a visual impression of what it was like to play the music. This was a nice album, and Douglas certainly does the memory of Lester Bowie proud with this group, drawing some very interesting shadings and textures and a wide variety of emotions and making everything compelling.
Spirit Moves - Greenleaf Records

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