Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dave Douglas - GPS Vol. 1, Rare Metals (Greenleaf, 2011)

Trumpeter, cornet player and composer Dave Douglas leads a myriad of bands that cover a lot of territory. This one, Brass Ecstasy, takes the ideas from brass bands and New Orleans bands of the past and moves the music into the present. Recorded in an informal manner, the music feels off the cuff, the sounds of musicians playing for themselves and having fun doing it. The personnel of the group is: Dave Douglas on trumpet, Vincent Chancey on French horn, Luis Bonilla on trombone, Marcus Rojas on tuba and Nasheet Waits on drums. "Town Hall" begins with uptempo fun horns riffing behind a pungent trumpet solo. There is a smooth unaccompanied break then the band returns to the melody, speeding to a fine conclusion. Bumping tuba and slinky brass open "Night Growl" with a charming parade style strut. Tuba or French horn develop a deep throaty response. The standard "Lush Life" is taken mid-tempo with trumpet and brushes patiently developing a quietly melancholy air. Tuba underpins other horns, making for a subtle and powerful performance. "Thread" features stuttering horns building momentum. With the other horns weaving mid-tempo pace to accompany a fiery trumpet solo. "Safeway" is a ballad with brushes and the horns developing a plangent setting, slowly building rich tones, culminating in strong trumpet over support brass. Yearning trumpet in a slightly mournful format ushers in "My Old Sign." The music builds to impressive full band section before slowing back down to a mellow ending. As a label owner, Douglas has the ability to release albums like this in the digital format as he pleases. But this was not on a whim, Rare Metals, is an excellent set from Brass Ecstasy band. Nothing to prove here, musicians having fun playing jazz. Greenleaf Portable Series, Volume 1: Rare Metals - amazon.com

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