By Jim Macnie



Dave Douglas

Time Travel

Greenleaf Music, CD



here are frolicsome moments on Dave Douglas’ 2012

album Be Still; then again, there are frolicsome moments

on all of the well-regarded trumpeter’s discs. But in the

large, the program is plaintive. The pieces his new sextet

essayed are Protestant hymns chosen by his mom, who

died the previous summer. She’d requested her son to play

these particular songs at her memorial service, and aided

by vocalist Aoife O’Donovan, Team Douglas performs them

with a wistful tone. With an aura of elegy drifting through

the entire record, the music is gorgeous, but bittersweet.


With the arrival of Time Travel, that

aura wafts away. The new quintet outing

(O’Donovan is gone) is the yin to Be Still’s

yang, full of the jaunty, aggressive swing on

which Douglas has put a personal spin for

20-plus years. It’s also a delicious album on

multiple levels. He’s drafted a program of

inviting melodies, he’s corralled a handful of

go-getters to juice the tunes, and he’s put his

keen ear towards the balance of audiencesating

and envelope-pushing. Nothing radical

takes place, but the squad—saxophonist Jon

Irabagon, pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist Linda

Oh, and drummer Rudy Royston—is about as

modern as a mainstream outfit can be.

Front lines often define a jazz statement,

and Irabagon’s wooly explorations are a

sweet match for the leader’s darting horn

lines. Douglas frequently enjoys episodes of

polyphony (one of the benchmark maneuvers

of his days with John Zorn’s Masada), and

the moments of ruckus he squeezes from

his mates often make Time Travel erupt in

irresistible ways. And any rhythm section with

Royston at the center is bound to be explosive.

Vide, the physical nature of the tunes—from

“Garden State” to the title track—places the

poetry of exclamation deeply in the mix.

A key Douglas strength remains his power

to dispense joy. His bands usually sound

like they’re having a blast when they’re in

the middle of romp. “Beware Of Doug” and

“Bridge To Nowhere” generate such collective

giddiness here. The former sports a cartoonish

melody (oddly, I’m seeing a city slicker trying

to make his way through a field of cow

patties) but the group has a serious grip on its

playfulness. “Bridge To Nowhere” is all about

coordination, with the collective shifting up and

down with such subtlety that everything feels

like it’s in constant motion. That’s the kind of

magic that Douglas delivers on a regular basis.

Having just turned 50 this winter, he’s an artist

with a wealth of experience behind him and

lots of new ideas to test out.

April 2013 123

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