Tuesday, July 13, 2010

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

This is a soundtrack to an interesting collaboration between trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas and filmmaker Bill Morrison composed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first filming of the Frankenstein story. Douglas penned the film score for a remixed film that used original footage with his band Keystone: 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. What results is a moody and experimental album, varied with the use of many different shadings and structures. Highlights of the album include the opening track, "Creature Theme" which builds slowly with electric piano and pinched trumpet building in a mysterious fashion. "Travelogue" starts with a slow and creepy feel, before the drums pick up a fast pace with keyboard accents. The leader's strong and controlled trumpet is featured, before the music drifts into an atmospheric slide. A cool funk groove, coming in hard and thick ushers in "Tree Ring Circus" which has strong full band improvisation. Lake, who is excellent throughout gets a solo accented by electronics. "Split Personality" lives up to its title by beginning in a slow and probing fashion before the horns and drums join in, increasing the pace. Douglas takes a fast and clearly articulated solo, before giving way to deep and strong tenor saxophone. The music was interesting throughout, sometimes referencing some of the early electronic experiments of Miles Davis with the use of Fender Rhodes piano, creating shimmering musical images. But the performance was the bands own, inspired by the images of the film and the compositions. Spark of Being Soundtrack - Greenleaf Records

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