Tuesday, April 16, 2013

CD Review: Dave Douglas Quintet- Time Travel


Dave Douglas Quintet
Time Travel
(Greenleaf) www.greenleafmusic.com

Dave Douglas turns 50 this year, and that milestone seems to bring with it a state of reflection. The title of the trumpeter's latest album, on his own Greenleaf imprint, could reflect a desire to toy with the time signatures in his music, or it could be a way to look back at where he's been over these last five decades. Both ideas seem to filter into the quintet's performance to some degree, yet to call this a concept album would seem to be pushing the issue. Any modern jazz musician worth their salt will always have some sense of the past and the future, with a group of like-minded support players to give it the enthusiastic push.

Having said that, "Bridge to Nowhere" launches the album with a vamp that sounds like a hard bop idea that was discovered in an early 1960s session at Van Gelder's. Before it can turn into something closer to "Well You Needn't" this driving number takes on an elliptical form. Douglas builds in intensity, as does tenor saxophonist Jon Irabagon, who starts with shorter lines that he keeps extending, getting fire from drummer Rudy Royston. Pianist Matt Mitchell (heard last year on Tim Berne's Snake Oil) also turns in an impressive solo full of fast lines, which do go somewhere. A similar speed and clarity marks "Garden State" which effectively recreates the intensity of Douglas' home of New Jersey, where dodging and speeding seem to be the standard rules of the day. "Beware of Doug" is also uptempo, with a somewhat lighthearted bounce to it, and it gives bassist Linda Oh a chance to unleash an astounding fleet-fingered solo.

Time Travel also has some pensive moments. "Law of Historical Memory" (named for a six-year-old Spanish law regarding the Franco dictatorship and receiving justice from it) has Mitchell rolling out steady eighth notes as Douglas and Irabagon play longer, brooding lines on top of it. "Little Feet" also sounds more contemplative at first, but it still gives Douglas a chance to go a little wild, wailing into the upper register of his horn.

This same quintet, along with vocalist Aiofe O'Donovan, released the album Be Still last year, to much critical acclaim. Having your own label means not having to wait too long between releases to follow up on your accomplishments. But Time Travel should not be mistaken for a quick followup that Douglas put out just because he can. Without even considering the last disc, this is a fully realized, engaging work that stands as a worthy document by someone who should continue to be productive in his second half-century of performances.