Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Dave Douglas and Keystone - Spark of Being: Expand (Greenleaf, 2010)

Earlier this year trumpeter Dave Douglas and his band Keystone released the soundtrack to an experimental re-interpretation of the Frankenstein story by film maker Bill Morrison. This is the second album in a trilogy devoted to this material, and this album contains the bands original uncut improvisatory versions of the compositions. Along with Douglas on trumpet and compositions, the band consists of Marcus Strickland on tenor saxophone, Adam Benjamin on electric piano, Brad Jones on bass, Gene Lake on drums and DJ Olive on turntables and laptop. They make an interesting mix of electronic and acoustic music that draws on many influences: fusion period Miles Davis, movie music and electronica. Among the most successful tracks are the title composition, "Spark of Being," which features electronics and probing trumpet, then saxophone and trumpet improvising over the shifting beat. "Tree Ring Circus" has a fast, percussive pace over which trumpet and saxophone confidently strut. The horns riff across the electronics and pulsing drums in an exciting performance. The song builds ever faster powered by muscular bass and drums. A fast tempo also enlivens "Travelogue" with Benjamin's electric piano comping over a funky broken beat. Horns add discreet riffs over the strong drumming (Lake is just killing on this track) and then Douglas takes over, soloing atop electric piano making a cool sounding update of the late 60's sound of Miles Davis. This was an interesting departure for the band, showing the raw source material from which the previous soundtrack album was drawn. While a few of the tracks do run a little too long, the focus was to mine them for ideas, much like Teo Macero did with Miles, and the band does succeed in creating some interesting soundscapes. Spark of Being: Expand - amazon.com

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