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Keystone by Dave Douglas

We’ll cut to the chase, as I’ve repeatedly sung the praises of Mr. Douglas on these (web)pages previously: DD is not merely one of the finest trumpeters in this modern age, but one of the finest composer/bandleaders as well. Hyperbole? Nope - the proof’s in a number of puddings, not least of which is Keystone, a musical tribute to the silent films-era actor Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. (For info on him, check, or even better, Kenneth Anger’s excellent book Hollywood Babylon.

Douglas’ horn retains that crisp, clean, singing sound, sort of a cross betwixt mid-60s Miles Davis and Woody Shaw (the latter who himself was an important, oft-underrated link between the bop & avant-jazz spheres). Like Miles (and John Zorn, of whose Masada quartet Douglas is a member), Douglas stretches himself with different contexts for his playing. On Keystone, he mixes gorgeously melancholic hard bop with fusion circa 1971 (long before it became a parody of itself) - haunting horn lines glide above moody grooves formed by shimmering, slightly percussive electric keyboards and a bass/drum team that can swing and dart/rock/get funky. There are some judiciously thorny yet good-humored dissonances, too. At times, this reminds me of Les McCann’s (way-underrated) album Invitation To Openness, with tasty chunks of UK fusion of the early 70s, i.e, Isotope, Soft Machine, Matching Mole, liberally mixed in. Douglas’ tunes (11!) and moods are varied, and most importantly, engaging, without any pandering to a lowest common denominator. This is not creative music to "ponder," this is creative music to enjoy. I suggest you, Dear Reader, do so asap. Warning: Keystone may or may not be available in some or any retail outlets (as its issued by DD’s very own label) - if you’ve trouble finding, check out

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Dave Douglas
  • CD Title: Keystone
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Greenleaf Music
  • Musicians: D.D.: trumpet; Jamie Saft: keyboards; Brad Jones: bass; Gene Lake: drums; Marcus Strickland: saxophones; DJ Olive: turntables
  • Rating: Five Stars
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