Sound Prints cover the waterfront at Kay Meek

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Friday October 17, 2014

From North Shore News

Sound Prints cover the waterfront at Kay Meek
By: Jeremy Shepherd

The trumpet sounds like New York at night.

The rhythm is wild and rapid, like the pulse of a caffeinated cabbie cutting through crosswalks come hell or pedestrians – and just when the trumpet ought to be short of breath, it howls. That howl is the call of all those nocturnal New Yorkers battling atrophy with lycanthropy – stepping out of back streets, alleys and bars to greet the moon.

“It’s a high-energy pressure cooker,” trumpeter Dave Douglas says of New York. “I’ve played with musicians from all around the globe but I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

There’s not a whole lot Douglas can’t do with his Bach Stradivarius.

On Riverside, his tribute to saxophonist and clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre, Douglas’ phrases intertwine with the saxophone of Chet Doxas, creating a sound that’s chaotic and melodic.

One album removed, Douglas’ blaring brass metamorphizes into a forlorn horn, sharing intimate conversations with Uri Caine’s piano on Present Joys.

Present Joys is Douglas’ celebration and investigation of the world of Sacred Harp music. Rooted in the southern United States, Sacred Harp music is a collection of four-part hymns and anthems dating back to the 1840s when the Sacred Harp songbooks made their music easier to read by using distinct shapes for each note.

Douglas is the rare musician who constantly looks backwards but evidences almost no characteristics of the nostalgic man. He dips into the 170-year old tradition of Sacred Harp music for Present Joys, but the album also features several new tunes penned by Douglas.

His latest venture is a collaboration with masterful tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano.

Together with bassist Linda Oh, pianist Lawrence Fields and drummer Joey Baron, the quintet comprise Sound Prints.

The name, contributed by Lovano, refers to composer and saxophonist Wayne Shorter’s tune, “Footprints,” but it’s also about the idea of music travelling across time, leaving an imprint on all its listeners.

“We both idolize Wayne Shorter,” Douglas says of himself and Lovano. “The theme is to bounce off the inspiration of the life and music and vision of Wayne.”

Douglas dedicated a record to Shorter in 1996. “As I grow as an artist and as a human, I uncover more and more layers of depth, of inspiration from things that Wayne Shorter has done musically.”

Rather than an homage to an icon, the band is a living, breathing tribute to a living breathing musician, who seems to function as the sixth sound in the quintet.

“Wayne heard us and wrote a couple of pieces for us that we’re playing that are brand new, unpublished Wayne tunes,” Douglas says.

Douglas graduated to trumpet at nine after starting with piano and trombone.

“As I started composing I realized, ‘Wow, I really have this personal voice that I can write for.’” That voice is everexpanding as the vocabulary of the trumpet continues to expand from the Gabriel-like blasts of Louis Armstrong to the introspective grooves of Miles Davis and the permutations added by today’s three-button pushers.

“That’s what keeps me writing and playing and striving,” Douglas says.

“You’re always going to walk around the corner and run into something that you’ve never heard before that’s going to be on the highest possible level.. .. That’s humbling, but it’s also inspiring.”

Besides his work on the trumpet, Douglas also runs his own label, Greenleaf, which has been in business since he left RCA 10 years ago.

“I decided that I wanted to have everything under one roof,” Douglas explains, listing touring, sheet music and podcasts promoted by the label.

Greenleaf is about artists escaping from exploitative contracts and “being able to control their destiny,” he says.

Having recently concluded his 50th birthday with a “quixotic” tour that took him to almost all 50 states in the United States of America, Douglas has established himself as an ambassador of jazz.

“I found that there was an appreciative, enthusiastic audience everywhere we went – especially in the places that one would think would be harder to reach,” he says, describing great crowds in Wyoming, Iowa, Oklahoma and Nevada.

“I thought about including all the provinces of Canada too, but my manager and my booking agent looked at me and said, ‘Dave, this is crazy enough as it is. Let it go.’”

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