Dave Douglas / Uri Caine / Andrew Cyrille - Devotion

Label: Greenleaf Music, 2019

Personnel – Dave Douglas: trumpet; Uri Caine: piano; Andrew Cyrille: drums.


Trumpeter Dave Douglas teams up once again with pianist Uri Caine, a member of his prestigious quintet in the 1900s, for a sequel to their 2014 album Present Joys. For Devotion, the musicians adopt the same methodology of its predecessor, adapting 19th-century sacred choral pieces from the Sacred Harp songbook, but on this occasion, in the company of a special third element who colors exquisitely behind the drumset: Andrew Cyrille.

Nine of the ten tunes on this recording are the product of Douglas’ crisp compositional vein. The exception is the title track, penned by Alexander Johnson. The album sunrises with “Curly”, a witty piano-drums duet dedicated to one of the Three Stooges, the comedian Jerome Horwitz. Manifesting a carefree posture, Cyrille is the perfect accompanist for Caine’s mercurial stride piano and fine block chords.

D’andrea” is initially dipped in enigmatic voicings, contrasting with Douglas’ bright phrases. The harmonic dark clouds dissipate after the trumpeter speaks his own idiom, a well-lighted association of hard-bop and avant-jazz. This tune is a tribute to Italian pianist Franco D’Andrea as well as “Francis of Anthony”, an impeccably brushed waltz with muted trumpet.

Both “Miljosang” and “False Allegiances” are devoted to and cull inspiration from Carla Bley’, and the pianist’s influence is well patented in their form, structure, and melodic/harmonic coherence. The former piece is a fetching and uncompromising 4/4 environmental tune arranged with harmonic straightforwardness, while the latter is a beautiful blues-tango with expressive muted trumpet and elegant mallet drumming. Caine delineates seductive bass lines with his left hand while, with the other, pronounces the melody in unison with the trumpeter. To me, this track is the absolute emotional apogee of the recording.

The sensitive comping, rhythmic effulgence, and splendid voice-leading continue on “Pacific”, a haunting ballad delivered with sharp focus. This piece was devoted to Aine Nakamura and the Mannes/New School composition class of Fall 2017 and its title derived from the tune system (C-F-C) of an Asian instrument.

Pianist Mary Lou Williams and trumpet master Dizzy Gillespie are also paid tribute on “Rose and Thorn”, a confluence of modal jazz and stride piano, and “We Pray”, a candid and sensitive ballad, respectively.

Douglas architects this music with empathy and trust, and the trio bestows a spontaneous charm that leaves a lasting impression. Versatility and intuition are among their strong points, therefore, this music never fails or gets boring.

Grade  A-

Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
05 - False Allegiances ► 07 - Pacific ► 09 - We Pray

Dave Douglas - Dark Territory

Dave Douglas: trumpet; Shigeto: electronics; Jonathan Maron: bass; Mark Guiliana: drums. 

For his new album entitled “Dark Territory”, the versatile trumpeter Dave Douglas reunites the same quartet that conceived the successful “High Risk”, one of the highlights of last year’s jazz releases. Together, they plunge into an inventive electronic music populated by deft ideas that rely on atmospherically jazzy melodies over dusky textures. 
Celine” is a great opening, incorporating downtempo grooves underneath an assertive melodic speech. Actually, I felt this particular tune wanders more on light rather than dark territories.
A consistent hip-hop beat breaks out from “All The Pretty Horsepower”, where Shigeto’s effects draw darker atmospheres increased by the bandleader’s melodic lines. This menacing undertone is repeated in the intro of “Let's Get One Thing Straight”, which gains an attractive beat enriched by the funky bass drives of Maron and the usage of voice samples.
After the astuteness presented in “Mission Acropolis”, “Ridge Hill” conveys a busy urban feeling through a twitchy pulse. Douglas excels throughout an outstanding solo delivered with intense feeling and adorned with unimpeachable effects. 
Neural”, marked by a highly syncopated rhythm, is quite surprising as its anatomic variations keep on flowing with rigorous dexterity. Douglas spreads the immensity of his warm sound all over, showing his incredible technique without resorting to any type of fireworks.
Even not reaching the levels of satisfaction of “High Risk”, “Dark Territories” is encircled by this disarming consistency that very much cultivates the fresh experimental current that Douglas resolved to grasp.

Favorite Tracks:
01 – Celine ► 05 – Ridge Hill ► 06 – Neural