Thursday, September 28, 2017

Dave Douglas - Little Giant Still Life (Greenleaf, 2017)

This is an interesting collaboration between trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas and the brass quartet The Westerlies who consist of Riley Mulherkar and Zubin Hensleron on trumpet and Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch on trombone, and the band is rounded out with Anwar Marshall on drums. "Champion" opens the album with uptempo brass riffing which frames a trumpet solo, before adding a more abstract middle section. There is some breakout drumming with solid soloing and accompaniment. Clean and tight ensemble playing that is brawny and broad shouldered is on display during "Arcade" with complex horn patterns and groups of horns playing off of one another. The music downshifts to another drum feature, before the horns respond with a choppy cadence, then take the tune out. "Little Giant Still Life" progresses from a weary mid tempo melody, set to a tight backbeat powering a trumpet solo soaring over growling brass. The brass calls everyone to order on "Percolator" and then an appealingly funky rhythm builds in. Horns weave in and out of the soundscape and develop a tight sense of interaction. "Bunting" shows the band using punchy jabs of brass and drums to create an interesting feeling, with the horns harmonizing nicely, the a trumpet breaking out and playing over the rest of the band with a bright solo. Soft horns join together on "Swing Landscape," playing in a meditative state joined by subtle percussive rhythm. Brass solos with framing horns and steady beat from the drums as the music fills out as the horns swell, softly filling out the sound of the music. "The Front Page" has a quiet opening, with the horns playing in space, building an arrangement which fills up the space in an unhurried manner. It is a subtle performance that paints the spaces with gradients of sound as the brass envelops the listener. Developing a fast pace, "Colonial Cubism" builds the tension with punchy brass and fine rhythm, as a trumpet out in front with a colorful solo statement ably supported by the remaining horns, then a punchy pinched trombone joins the fray giving the music a kick. "Codetta" and "Worlds Beyond the Sky" conclude the album, developing a spare and reverent feel as the horns play softly, moving the music at a very gentle pace, thoughtfully understated horns grow more urgent, with buttery sections working at a strong pace. Little Giant Still Life - amazon.com

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