Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dave Douglas with Steve Swallow, Jim Doxas and Chet Doxas - Riverside (Greenleaf, 2014)

Trumpeter Dave Douglas has done many tribute albums during the course of his career, paying homage to the likes of Wayne Shorter and Mary Lou Williams. Here he tips his hat in the direction of influential clarinet and saxophone player Jimmy Giuffre. On Riverside he produces a collaborative album along with Chet Doxas on tenor saxophone and clarinet, his brother Jim Doxas on drums and one of Giuffre's longtime collaborators, Steve Swallow on bass. My favorite performances on the album were “Old Church, New Paint” which was slow and deep, almost hymnal. Douglas' recent Be Still album explored this territory at length so this was familiar ground for him. There is some deep tenor saxophone channeling Ben Webster, and an earthy jazz feel to the arrangement. “Handwritten Letter” was fast! Gathering speed with the horns intertwined and then Douglas blasts off from the fanfare theme with a brisk solo playing tight and focused. Doxas on tenor is a revelation, taking a startling solo before giving his brother drummer some of the limelight. This was a highlight of the album, just crackling stuff. The tempo is kept high on on "Big Shorty" where trumpet and saxophone converse followed by Douglas who blasts off an excellent solo, scalding and ripping the very air, before handing off the reins to Doxas who raises the bar even higher and then his brother says "don’t forget about me" with a ripe drum feature. The fact that the group works really well at high speed is further evidenced on “No Good Without You.” This track has a strong medium up feel founded on a deep bass groove and made exciting by the way the angular trumpet and squiggly saxophone play off against one another. There’s a funk drum solo to boot, taking the music out in excellent fashion. “Sing on the Mountain” ends the album and was by far the longest track. Starting with subtle bass and trumpet, the remaining instruments slowly blend in building the music to a emotional conclusion. This was a good album, Douglas and Swallow are as excellent as you would expect them to be, but the Doxas brothers were a revelation to me. They play with bright and punchy enthusiasm and are excellent throughout, deserving wider recognition. Riverside - amazon.com

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