Jazz: Dave Douglas Quartet - Custard Factory, Birmingham
Tuesday 29 April 1997
The trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas has an answer of sorts. As part of a contemporary New York avant-garde, he plays Webern and Stravinsky alongside Duke Ellington, and his jazz sextet uses the examples of earlier jazz composers as the basis for startlingly new works which, however radical their conception, remain deep in the pocket of the great tradition. Their album In Our Lifetime (New World / Countercurrents) from 1995, was dedicated to the Memphis-born trumpeter Booker Little, and it mixed Little's own compositions with Douglas originals that paid homage to his style. It's one of the best albums of the decade so far and it provided the repertoire for this short British tour, whose final date had the Canadian trumpeter Kenny Wheeler joining the sextet for the second set.
It was a glorious performance, both with Wheeler and without. In the main, Douglas's music is unapologetically written rather than improvised, full of deep, recessive structures and dense, parallel themes, but it is played with the risk and immediacy of spontaneous composition by his superb group. The ensemble passages are unerringly precise while the members of the band are given free-rein to express themselves in short, sharp solos, and Douglas's own trumpet playing is masterful but never flashy, favouring a stoically melancholy mid-range. A preview of a number from the band's next album, which re-interprets the music of Wayne Shorter, exemplified the virtues of their method; drummer Ben Perowsky eased into a rhythm familiar from Tony Williams's work with Miles Davis, while Douglas quoted obliquely from the Shorter compositions on "Filles De Kilimanjaro". A whole jazz era was summoned up in a few careful phrases. In the second set, the addition of Kenny Wheeler provided an extra edge for the programme of Booker Little themes and variations. Wheeler's tone on flugelhorn manages to create a signature-sound of almost unbearable poignancy. It was a stormer of a gig, validating equally the great tradition and the continued shock of the new.
A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend
A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The way the police have treated Cliff Richard is completely unacceptable
- 2 Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
- 3 Michael Brown shooting: Ferguson police shoot and kill second young black man
- 4 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 5 Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermeister and vodka
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness
JK Rowling releases new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing Celestina Warbuck, the 'Singing Sorceress'
Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermeister and vodka
The funniest joke at Edinburgh Fringe 2014: Tim Vine wins for second time
Kate Bush: Previously unseen photographs reveal new side to comeback star
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head