Dave Douglas (trumpeter)
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Dave Douglas at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 2007.
|Born||March 24, 1963|
|Genres||Jazz, free jazz, electronic music|
|Occupations||Musician, composer, bandleader|
|Labels||Greenleaf, RCA, Winter & Winter Arabesque, Soul Note|
Dave Douglas (born March 24, 1963) is an American jazz trumpeter and composer whose music derives from many non-jazz musical styles, including classical music, folk music from European countries and klezmer. He has been a member of the experimental big band Orange Then Blue. Douglas is currently[when?] the director of the Festival of New Trumpet Music, which is held annually in New York City.
Since 1993, Douglas has recorded more than twenty albums as a bandleader. He has also performed and recorded with dozens of musicians, perhaps most notably with various John Zorn ensembles. With his own groups, Douglas has pioneered new settings for the trumpet in jazz. In more recent years, he has explored collaborations involving modern dance, spoken word/poetry, and film.
Douglas grew up in the New York City area and attended Phillips Exeter Academy, a private high school in New Hampshire. He discovered jazz while on an abroad program in Spain. After graduating from high school in 1981, he studied at the Berklee School of Music and New England Conservatory, both located in Boston, Massachusetts.
In 1984, Douglas moved to New York to study at New York University and finished a degree in music. Meanwhile, he played with a variety of ensembles and came to the attention of the jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader, Horace Silver, with whom he toured Europe in 1987.
In 1993, Douglas began performing with John Zorn in his Masada quartet, which blended the influences of saxophonist/composer Ornette Coleman with Jewish folk musics. The band became one of Zorn's most long-standing and popular ensembles, and brought Douglas wider attention.
Since the mid-1990s, Douglas has led a variety of groups simultaneously. His first album as a leader, Parallel Worlds (1993), featured Douglas backed by a string trio performing his own compositions and music by Webern, Kurt Weill and Stravinsky. Meanwhile, Douglas formed two new groups, the Tiny Bell Trio, and his sextet. The former performs what Douglas calls "Balkan improvisations". It is unusual in its instrumentation (trumpet, guitar, drums) and blends Eastern European folk influences with jazz. The sextet features the classic instrumentation of trumpet, tenor sax, trombone, piano, bass, and drums. This group focuses on the music of great jazz composers and Douglas pieces inspired by those musicians. Their first release was a tribute to the trumpeter Booker Little.
In 1996, Douglas recorded Sanctuary with Cuong Vu, Anthony Coleman, and other musicians of the New York downtown scene of the time. The group involved sampling and DJ improvisations in addition to jazz.
In 1997, Douglas started a quartet featuring trumpet, violin, accordion, and bass which recorded Charms of the Night Sky, incorporating Eastern European and Jewish folk musics as well as jazz influences on the music, which is generally mellow and relaxed. The album included a number of tracks with Douglas and accordionist Guy Klucevsek performing as a duo. A second album by the Charms of the Night Sky group, A Thousand Evenings was released in 2000.
Also in 1997, Douglas founded another quartet. The Dave Douglas Quartet performs wild, freewheeling music, influenced by the bands of Coleman and Zorn.
In 2000, Douglas released Soul on Soul, a tribute to composer and pianist Mary Lou Williams, featuring original arrangements of her music for the sextet and new pieces inspired by her work. Douglas also released albums featuring Charms of the Night Sky and the Dave Douglas Quartet in the same year.
Witness, a nine-part suite, was released in 2001. It features a band made up of trumpet, sax, two electric pianos, electronic percussion, bass, and drums. Douglas' music had always been informed by his political concerns, but this album was his most ambitious attempt to give them musical form, often by celebrating his political and cultural heroes through dedications and track titles. The album includes a 20-minute track entitled "Mahfouz", in which gravel-voiced singer Tom Waits reads an excerpt from the works of Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz, as well as pieces dedicated to Edward Said and Taslima Nasrin.
More recently, Douglas founded the Dave Douglas New Quintet and Nomad. The Quintet is a trumpet and tenor sax-led group but with Fender Rhodes electric piano. Their first album, The Infinite (2001), featured Douglas originals and pieces by or inspired by musicians Rufus Wainwright and Thom Yorke. This was followed up by 2004's Strange Liberation by the same group with guest Bill Frisell on guitar. Formed in 2003, Nomad is made up of trumpet, clarinet, cello, tuba, and drums. With this band, Douglas performed his suite Mountain Passages, commissioned for the Italian Sound of the Dolomites Festival, and released as the first album on Douglas' record label Greenleaf Music in 2005. The suite features a variety of different influences including Italian Ladino music, New Orleans jazz, and other musics, and is to be played from 9 to 12,000 feet above sea level.
Douglas also started a new band called Keystone, which performs works influenced by the silent film actor and director Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle. The project includes pieces to be performed with Arbuckle's films. This ensemble is made up of trumpet, tenor sax, Wurlitzer (electric piano), turntables, electric bass, and drums. A CD of this music – accompanied by a DVD with two Arbuckle shorts – was released in 2005.
2006 saw Douglas release Meaning and Mystery, where he plays again with his quintet, now with Donny McCaslin in place of Chris Potter on saxophones. In December 2006, Greenleaf Music recorded all the quintet's performances over a six-night engagement at New York's Jazz Standard jazz club, called them Live at the Jazz Standard (Complete Book), and made the two-hour sets the band played each night available for download from the company's website within 24 hours. The 44 compositions, almost all of them by Douglas alongside covers of Wainwright, Mary J. Blige and Björk, featured 14 tunes not previously recorded by the band. Those 14 new compositions were released on a 2-CD set, Live at the Jazz Standard, in 2007.
In late 2007, Moonshine, a further recording by Keystone, was released. This was based upon recordings made of a concert performance by the band at that year's Bray Jazz Festival in Ireland. The Keystone band then led a 5-night run at Jazz Standard in April 2008. Greenleaf Music recorded and released all ten sets through their website as a download-only series, Keystone: Live at Jazz Standard (Complete Book).
In 2009, Douglas released two albums: Spirit Moves by his Brass Ecstasy band which featured Vincent Chancey, Luis Bonilla, Marcus Rojas and Nasheet Waits; and his first album of big band compositions, A Single Sky, a collaboration with Jim McNeely and the Frankfurt Radio Bigband.
- Official Site: http://www.davedouglas.com/
- Greenleaf Music: http://www.greenleafmusic.com/
- Album Review @ TracksMusic.com
- Biography, CD and concert review of Dave Douglas
- History, biography and concert review of Dave Douglas' Tiny Bell Trio by cosmopolis.ch