Friday, May 09, 2008

Dave Douglas & Keystone - Live at the Jazz Standard 4/12/08, Early Set (Greenleaf, 2008)

For the second time, Dave Douglas has offered near immediate downloads of the music his band performed during a week long run at the Jazz Standard in New York City. This kind of immediacy and warts and all releases are a wonderful treat for fans of this group, as you get to hear them in the act of creation and re-creation of their music. I downloaded the early set of the April 12 performance, and the band consisted of Douglas on trumpet, Marcus Strickland on saxophones, Adam Benjamin on fender rhodes electric piano, Brad Jones on bass, Gene Lake on drums and DJ Olive on turntables and laptop. The music is drawn from recent Douglas LPs, with the keyboards and laptop adding a unique science fiction feeling to the proceedings on occasion. “Luke The Dog” mixes a funky beat with some trippy rhodes and videogame like effects from the laptop to good effect, along with solid frontline playing from the trumpet and saxophone. “Silent Stars” probes with stuttering trumpet, then twin sax and trumpet in a melancholy groove. Cleanly articulated mid tempo trumpet, solo probing sax, and a spacey rhodes interlude are featured before all the instruments come back to take things out. Ominous laptop effects open “The First Hundred Years” along with inserted atmospheric rhodes chords. Slow dark and stark trumpet slides into “Travelling Salesman”, which is a fractured and experimental performance, and adds samples of the current American president's comments on war in an ironic fashion. The instruments then kick in with improv over more samples. “Circus Peanuts” is a more accessible and whimsical performance, with a cyclic melody and strong, pithy trumpet and saxophone solos. The set ending “Tough” is a lengthy improvisation, clocking in at over sixteen minutes. Starting funky with drums and beats and strong bass, Douglas's trumpet rips in near the five minute mark backed by strong rhodes comping. He plays a strutting and potent long solo, full of invention and sounding great. Then McCaslin moves to the front, deep and strong and responding to Douglas's challenge well. A funky drum solo is also featured. It's a long track, but not a note is wasted, and it is a powerful demonstration of this group's considerable talents. This set is a fine example of this forward thinking band not afraid to take chances in a live setting. This music is challenging and thoughtful, and very good.

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