I extolled the virtues of trumpeter Dave Douglas in these (web)pages before, so I’ll try not to be redundant. Douglas (who’s not-so-incidentally played w/ John Zorn and Myra Melford and recorded tribute albums to both Wayne Shorter and Joni Mitchell) is a superb trumpet player out of (but certainly not limited to) the hard bop lineage a la Miles, Freddie H and Woody Shaw and a fresh, inventive composer and bandleader who clearly believes in NOT making the same kind of album twice. Semi-trivia: those of you whose musical memory/history goes back more than 10 years may tumble to the fact the title of Douglas’ latest opus bears a passing resemblance to the very first album by Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention’s debut. (Just thought I’d pass that along.) Superficially, Freak In seems to bear some resemblance to Miles’ electric period circa Bitches Brew - but Douglas doesn’t settle for that ‘cause it’d be too easy. (Not to imply that Miles’ electric stuff was/is "easy" but a lot of people have been drawing water from this very same well lately, you dig? DD doesn’t need to hitch his trailer to Miles’ spiffy Ferrari to "make" a cool thing.) There’s definitely the shade of the atmospheric, partly electronically realized moody textures, but there’s also old-school R&B-tinged hard bop trumpet-and-tenor melodic heads, chunky, straightforward rhythms spiced with propulsive tabla playing and some restrained bluesy guitar. There’s tension and then there’s release, and plenty of enticingly poignant and, dare I say, pretty melodies (especially "Maya" and "Traveler There Is No Road") worthy of Miles, Brubeck and Shaw. Freak In is one of those albums that seems to come from it’s own "time" - parts of it sound like a Great Lost Record from 1974 or ’83 yet it’s a fresh as yesterday. Dare I say it, part II: Douglas had indeed done it again: made an album that’s both creative and thoroughly approachable - it’s only May and this’ll likely make my Best-of-Year list.
Artist / Group Name:Dave Douglas
CD Title:Freak In
Genre:Contemporary Jazz / Modern
Record Label:Bluebird Jazz
Musicians:D.D.: trumpet, keyboards; Chris Speed, Seamus Blake: tenor sax; Marc Ribot: guitar; Brad Jones: bass; Joey Baron, Michael Sarin: drums; Karsh Kale: tablas; Ikue Mori: electronic percussion; others.