Dave Douglas (trumpeter)

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Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas (trumpet).jpg
Dave Douglas at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 2007.
Background information
Born (1963-03-24) March 24, 1963 (age 52)
Origin East Orange, New Jersey
Genres Jazz, free jazz, electronic music
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, bandleader
Instruments Trumpet, cornet
Years active 1984–present
Labels Greenleaf, RCA, Winter & Winter Arabesque, Soul Note
Associated acts Masada, Brass Ecstasy, Keystone, Soundprints, SFJAZZ Collective, Riverside
Website davedouglas.com

Dave Douglas (born March 24, 1963) is an American jazz trumpeter and composer whose music derives from jazz, classical music, folk music, electronica and klezmer.

Since 1993, Douglas has recorded more than forty albums as a bandleader. He has produced more than fifty, including all albums released by his independent label, Greenleaf Music. He has also performed and recorded with dozens of musicians in jazz and popular genres and has been a member of the SFJAZZ Collective and 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.[1]

Douglas served as the artistic director of the Banff Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music from 2002 to 2012. He is a co-founder of the Festival of New Trumpet Music – a non-profit charity that supports new and pioneering trumpet work across genres, genders and communities – that is held annually in New York City.[2][3]

Early years[edit]

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 College of Music and New England Conservatory, both located in Boston, Massachusetts.[1]

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.[1]


Dave Douglas (in black) with Masada

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.[4]

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.


SFJAZZ Collective—from left to right: Andre Hayward, Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano and Miguel Zenón at the North Sea Jazz Festival of 2007. Photo by Siebe van Ineveld

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.

In the early years of the decade, Douglas worked often with the Trisha Brown Dance Company. El Trilogy, an extended musical work accompanying modern dance, was performed during 2000–2001.

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.[1] 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, 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.


In tandem with the 100th anniversary of the first Frankenstein film, Douglas collaborated with experimental film-maker Bill Morrison and released the 3-CD set Spark of Being. Written for his Keystone ensemble, the set includes three related, yet subtly different, albums to accompany the Morrison film. The first edition, entitled Soundtrack, comprises long-form pieces edited to accompany the film in real time. The second edition, Expand, contains extended performances of the original themes from the soundtrack, arranged in a traditional jazz album format. Burst, the third edition, consists of additional variations and unused outtakes recorded at the initial session.[5]

In 2011, Douglas released three albums within the span of five months through Greenleaf Music. The albums were released only in digital format and contained approximately 30 to 50 minutes of music per album, referencing album lengths of the LP era. Released under the unifying label of the Greenleaf Portable Series, or GPS, the albums showcased ensembles that Douglas may only "rarely get to play with" in some cases. The first album, Rare Metals featured Douglas' Brass Ecstasy ensemble. The second album, Orange Afternoons included Ravi Coltrane on tenor sax, Vijay Iyer on piano, Linda Oh on bass, Marcus Gilmore on drums. The third, Bad Mango, paired Douglas with the innovative quartet So Percussion.[6]

Douglas joined with tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano to form the co-led quintet Soundprints in 2012. The group originated during the bandleaders' intersecting tenures in the SFJAZZ Collective in 2008 and is loosely based upon the music of tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter. The group's Village Vanguard debut in November 2012 included drummer Joey Baron, bassist Linda Oh and pianist Lawrence Fields.[7]

Douglas released Be Still in 2012. The album featured Douglas' newly formed quintet of Jon Irabagon on saxophone, Matt Mitchell on piano, Linda Oh on bass, and Rudy Royston on drums with the addition of vocalist Aoife O'Donovan. Dedicated to the memory of Douglas' mother, Emily, who died in 2011, Be Still features nine tracks, of which six are hymns and folks songs that she requested Douglas perform at her funeral. The same ensemble, minus O'Donovan, recorded and released Time Travel the following year.[8][9]

Inspired by 2005's Mountain Passages, which the I Suoni delle Dolomiti festival in Northern Italy commissioned to be performed at a high altitude, Douglas initiated his 2013 tenure as the Monterey Jazz Festival's "Showcase Artist" with a benefit concert and hike at Glen Deven Ranch in Big Sur, California. The audience and performers alike hiked to a promontory overlooking the Pacific Ocean and then listened to a concert of Douglas' music.[3]

In celebration of his 50th birthday, Douglas launched his "50 States Project" and set out to perform in each of the 50 U.S. states throughout the course of 2013. The tour aimed to include performances in "unlikely and outdoors locations for people who might not otherwise have the same kind of access to live, improvised music as those in larger cities."[10]

In 2014, Douglas formed a collaboration with tenor saxophonist Chet Doxas, electric bassist Steve Swallow, and drummer Jim Doxas. Collectively known as Riverside, the group formed out of a shared respect for Texas-born multireedist Jimmy Giuffre. The group's eponymously-titled recording features originals by Douglas and Doxas, as well as Guiffre's "The Train and the River".[11]


As leader[edit]

Year Title Personnel Label
1993 Parallel Worlds String Group: Mark Feldman, Erik Friedlander, Mark Dresser and Michael Sarin Soul Note
1994 The Tiny Bell Trio Tiny Bell Trio: Brad Shepik and Jim Black Songlines
1995 In Our Lifetime Josh Roseman, Chris Speed, Uri Caine, James Genus and Joey Baron Inspired by Booker Little New World
1995 Constellations Tiny Bell Trio hatHUT
1996 Five String Group Soul Note
1997 Live in Europe Tiny Bell Trio Live album Arabesque
1997 Sanctuary Cuong Vu, Yuka Honda, Anthony Coleman, Mark Dresser, Hilliard Greene, Chris Speed and Dougie Bowne Live album Avant
1997 Stargazer Chris Speed, Josh Roseman, Uri Caine, James Genus and Joey Baron Inspired by Wayne Shorter Arabesque
1998 Moving Portrait Bill Carrothers, James Genus and Billy Hart Inspired by Joni Mitchell DIW
1998 Charms of the Night Sky Charms of the Night Sky: Mark Feldman, Guy Klucevsek and Greg Cohen Winter & Winter
1998 Magic Triangle Chris Potter, James Genus and Ben Perowsky Arabesque
1999 Convergence String Group Soul Note
1999 Songs for Wandering Souls Tiny Bell Trio Winter & Winter
2000 Soul on Soul Chris Speed, Josh Roseman, Greg Tardy, Uri Caine, James Genus and Joey Baron Inspired by Mary Lou Williams RCA
2000 Leap of Faith Chris Potter, James Genus, and Ben Perowsky Arabesque
2000 A Thousand Evenings Charms of the Night Sky RCA
2001 El Trilogy Greg Cohen, Mark Feldman, Guy Klucevsek/Gregory Tardy and Susie Ibarra BMG
2001 Witness Chris Speed, Joe Daley, Mark Feldman, Erik Friedlander, Drew Gress, Bryan Carrott, Michael Sarin, Ikue Mori, Josh Roseman and Yuka Honda with Tom Waits RCA
2002 The Infinite Chris Potter, Uri Caine, James Genus, and Clarence Penn RCA
2003 Freak In Seamus Blake, Chris Speed, Marc Ribot, Romero Lubambo, Jamie Saft, Craig Taborn, Brad Jones, Joey Baron, Michael Sarin Karsh Kale and Ikue Mori Bluebird
2004 Strange Liberation Chris Potter, Bill Frisell, Uri Caine, James Genus and Clarence Penn RCA
2004 Bow River Falls Louis Sclavis, Peggy Lee, and Dylan van der Schyff Koch
2005 Mountain Passages Michael Moore, Marcus Rojas Peggy Lee, and Dylan van der Schyff Greenleaf
2005 Live at the Bimhuis Set 1 & 2 Rick Margitza, Uri Caine, James Genus and Clarence Penn Live album Greenleaf Music
2005 Keystone Keystone: Marcus Strickland, Jamie Saft, DJ Olive, Brad Jones and Gene Lake Inspired by Fatty Arbuckle Greenleaf
2006 Meaning and Mystery Donny McCaslin, Uri Caine, James Genus and Clarence Penn Greenleaf Music
2006 Keystone: Live in Sweden Keystone: omit Saft and add Adam Benjamin Live album Greenleaf Music
2007 Live at the Jazz Standard Donny McCaslin, Uri Caine, James Genus and Clarence Penn Live album also released as 12 set download Greenleaf Music
2007 Moonshine Keystone Live album Greenleaf Music
2008 Keystone: Live at Jazz Standard Keystone Live album released as 8 set download Greenleaf Music
2009 Spirit Moves Brass Ecstasy: Vincent Chancey, Luis Bonilla, Marcus Rojas, Nasheet Waits Greenleaf
2009 A Single Sky Frankfurt Radio Big Band conducted by Jim McNeely Greenleaf
2010 Spark Of Being Keystone Greenleaf
2011 United Front: Brass Ecstasy at Newport Brass Ecstasy Live album Greenleaf
2011 Three Views Brass Ecstasy; Ravi Coltrane, Vijay Iyer, Linda Oh and Marcus Gilmore; So Percussion Compiles GPS Portable Series: Rare Metals, Orange Afternoons and Bad Mango Greenleaf
2012 Be Still Aoife O'Donovan, Jon Irabagon, Matt Mitchell, Linda Oh and Rudy Roysto Greenleaf
2013 Time Travel Jon Irabagon, Matt Mitchell, Linda Oh and Rudy Roysto Greenleaf
2013 DD50: Special Edition 50th Birthday Recordings Compiles Be Still & Time Travel with bonus album Pathways and DVD Greenleaf
2014 Riverside Chet Doxas, Steve Swallow and Jim Doxas Greenleaf
2014 Present Joys Duets with Uri Caine Greenleaf
2015 Sound Prints Joe Lovano, Lawrence Fields, Linda Oh and Joey Baron Live album Blue Note
2015 High Risk Shigeto, Jonathan Maron and Mark Guiliana Greenleaf

As sideman[edit]

Album artist Title Year Label
Second Sight Second Sight 1988 Sun Jump Records
Vincent Herring American Experience 1989 Musicmasters
New and Used Souvenir 1991 Knitting Factory Works
Orange Then Blue While You Were Out 1992 GM Recordings
The Band Jericho 1993 Pyramid/Rhino
Don Byron Plays the Music of Mickey Katz 1993 Elektra
Franklin Kiermyer In The House of My Fathers 1993 Konnex
Mark Dresser Force Green 1994 Soul Note
Masada Masada, Vol. 1: Alef 1994 DIW
Mosaic Sextet Today, This Moment 1994 Konnex
Mark Dresser The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1995 Knitting Factory Works
New and Used Consensus 1995 Knitting Factory Works
Masada Masada, Vol. 2: Beit 1995 DIW Records
Masada Masada, Vol. 3: Gimel 1995 DIW Records
Steve Beresford Signals for Tea 1995 Avant
Masada Masada, Vol. 5: Hei 1995 DIW Records
Masada Masada, Vol. 6: Vav 1995 DIW Records
Fontella Bass No Ways Tired 1995 Nonesuch Records
Fred Hersch Point in Time 1995 Enja
Anthony Braxton & Mario Pavone Seven Standards 1995 1995 Knitting Factory Works
John Zorn Bar Kokhba 1996 Tzadik
Suzanne Vega Nine Objects of Desire 1996 A&M Records
Myra Melford The Same River, Twice 1996 Gramavision Records
Dave Douglas and Han Bennink Serpentine 1996 Songlines Recordings
Sheryl Crow Sheryl Crow 1996 A&M Records
Uri Caine Toys 1996 Winter & Winter
John Zorn Filmworks III: 1990-1995 1997 Tzadik
Marc Ribot Shoe String Symphonettes 1997 Tzadik
Uri Caine Urlicht / Primal Light 1997 Winter & Winter
François Houle & Dave Douglas In the Vernacular: The Music of John Carter 1998 Songlines Recordings
Sean Lennon Into the Sun 1998 Capitol Records
Masada Masada, Vol. 7: Zayin 1998 DIW Records
Masada Masada, Vol. 8: Het 1998 DIW Records
Masada Masada, Vol. 9: Tet 1998 DIW Records
Masada Masada, Vol. 10: Yod 1998 DIW Records
Patricia Barber Modern Cool 1998 Premonition Records
What We Live Quintet for a Day 1998 New World Records
Greg Cohen Way Low 1998 DIW Records
Cibo Matto Stereo ★ Type A 1999 Warner Bros. Records
Myra Melford Above Blue 1999 Arabesque Records
Sean Lennon Half Horse Half Musician 1999 EMI
Masada Masada, Vol. 4: Dalet 1999 DIW Records
Masada Masada, Vol. 7: Zayin 1999 DIW Records
Masada Live in Jerusalem 1994 1999 Tzadik
Masada Live in Middleheim 1999 1999 Tzadik
Masada Live in Taipei 1995 1999 Tzadik
Uri Caine The Sidewalks of New York: Tin Pan Alley 1999 Winter & Winter
Masada Live in Sevilla 2000 1999 Tzadik
What We Live Trumpets 2000 Black Saint
Joe Lovano Flights of Fancy: Trio Fascination Edition Two 2001 Blue Note Records
Misha Mengelberg Quartet Four in One 2001 Blue Note Records
John Zorn The Gift 2001 Tzadik
Masada Live at Tonic 2001 2001 Tzadik
Mosaic Sextet Mosaic Sextet 2001 GM Recordings
Brad Shepik Trio Short Trip 2001 Knitting Factory Works
Masada First Live 1993 2002 Tzadik
Patricia Barber Verse 2002 Premonition Records
Myra Melford Even the Sounds Shine 2003 Hathut Records
John Zorn The Unknown Masada 2003 Tzadik
Masada 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 7 2004 Tzadik
Masada Sanhedrin 1994-1997 2005 Tzadik
Martial Solal & Dave Douglas Rue de Seine 2006 Sunnyside
Anthony Braxton Six Standards (Quintet) 1996 2006 Splasc(h)
Kenny Werner Lawn Chair Society 2007 Blue Note Records
Masada with Joe Lovano Stolas: Book of Angels Volume 12 2009 Tzadik


  1. ^ a b c d Kelsey, Chris. "Dave Douglas: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved January 30, 2011. 
  2. ^ Sawyer, Jill. "Dave Douglas takes it to the coda". Banff Center. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Blumfeld, Larry. "Dave Douglas has horn, will travel". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  4. ^ Layne, Joslyn. "Masada: Live in Taipei: Review". Allmusic. Retrieved January 30, 2011. 
  5. ^ Collins, Troy. "Dave Douglas & Keystone: Spark Of Being". All About Jazz. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  6. ^ JARENWATTANANON, PATRICK. "Dave Douglas: Three Records, Five Months". NPR. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  7. ^ Chinen, Nate. "Sound Prints at the Village Vanguard". New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  8. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Be Still". All Music. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  9. ^ Collar, Matt. "Time Travel". All Music. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  10. ^ Tamarkin, Jeff. "Dave Douglas 50 States Project Tour Under Way". JazzTimes. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  11. ^ Chinen, Nate. "New Recordings by Riverside, Jessica Lea Mayfield and August Alsina". New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 

External links[edit]