Rocking the Route

Posted by: admin on October 29, 2010 @ 10:50 am
Filed under: Chicago News, Events, Humor

Just so that everyone knows, I’m going to be out of the office next week heading out on the road with my band. There are 5 gigs over 7 days, all at stops on Route 66 — Chicago (tonight), St. Louis, Tulsa, Albuquerque, and finally LA. Info here. If you are in any of these place, come out and say hi. It’s not a jazz thing, but it is good-ole-rocknroll.

The tour is sponsored by Red Bull. They are filming each night for spots on the web and potentially a couple TV episodes. The idea is that they get us and another Chicago band on the road, they put us in surprise competitions at each stop vying for a ride on the Red Bull tour bus the following day (if we lose we ride in a sh#!tty van, not too dissimilar from the one we usually tour in), and finally some free studio time in LA if we win the whole thing. Celebrity guest judges, too. They are keeping us in the dark about pretty much everything to add suspense.

Hilarious, huh?

Anyway, I’ll be updating as much as I can from the road. Greenleaf orders will be shipped out next week on Tuesday and again on Friday–unlike our usual 1-24hr turn-around time–just so you know.

Preparing to get my kicks…



Spark of Being, Words

Posted by: Dave Douglas on October 27, 2010 @ 11:07 am
Filed under: Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts), Spark Of Being

As promised…

Spark of Being, Words

Booklet Cover
Booklet Band

I’ve always felt that no matter how complex the music gets, it should always be built from the smallest and simplest of ideas. Beginning with a few small motifs suggested by the materials Bill showed me, the score for Spark of Being was conceived with the musicians in Keystone in mind. A lot of the development of the piece comes about through improvisation, but there is also a great deal of empathy on the part of the musicians towards the smallest bits of information given to them. The compositions on this box are, as you will hear, all cobbled together using various gatherings of a few key elements.

The initial impetus for writing was the collaboration with images. Bill and I started this project at the same time, and we passed material back and forth repeatedly. That’s what I think is responsible for the particular tone of this music. In making Spark of Being I also had the opportunity to work closely and over long periods with DJ Olive and Adam Benjamin. A lot of that work had to do with finding sounds and tweaking them to get the effect we were looking for. I also relied on Adam Benjamin’s expertise in GarageBand, and Olive’s in Ableton Live, software applications I ended up having to learn for myself. It created a situation where, when the rest of the band showed up (Marcus Strickland, Brad Jones, and Gene Lake), we were able to put our experience improvising together to work in this entirely new sonic environment. Likewise, the editing and mixing process was long and involved, many hours spent with Geoff Countyman and Tyler McDiarmid working with the materials. They were kind enough to teach me several other indispensable computer apps.

As I step into a new involvement with music in the digital age, I don’t believe past lessons should be thrown away. The streamlined model of Miles Davis’ ensembles has always been important to me. I don’t think you can minimize the power of extreme editing and its influence on the perception of revolution in the sound of his groups. The music is so naked at times that the sound becomes everything. That is not lost on me, though I hope that’s not all people hear when they consider this box set. The suite-like extended improvisations and compositions of Don Cherry and Woody Shaw are powerful examples that I treasure. Likewise, sonic explorations by Jon Hassell and Bill Dixon, though radically different in end result, are also influential models for me. By naming these names here I am not claiming any credit or ownership, merely point out a few connections. This music does not come out of the blue, uninfluenced by precedent. But neither is it a slavish recreation. My intention is to make an amalgamation of many inspirations that become their own creature, hopefully adding something of my own that is of value. I’m limiting myself to trumpeters here so the notes will be of reasonable length.

Perhaps more than all those inspirations from the past, I also draw sustenance from a younger crop of trumpet players, among them Ambrose Akinmusire, Avishai Cohen, Nate Wooley, Peter Evans, Jonathan Finlayson, Taylor Ho Bynum, Kirk Knuffke, Greg Kelley, Amir ElSaffar, Ibrahim Maalouf, Jason Palmer, Kris Tiner. The landscape of new trumpet music is richer than ever, and quite honestly, these players (and others) have given me profound inspiration and reason to push forward. Their influence powerfully affected my thinking in making this music.


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Posted by: Dave Douglas on October 25, 2010 @ 3:31 pm
Filed under: Events

Thanks to everyone at the Highline Ballroom and to all of you who came out to the show. We had a fantastic time!

Looking forward to the European dates.

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Jazz Knights Rock

Posted by: Dave Douglas on October 22, 2010 @ 12:34 pm
Filed under: Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts)

West Point Military Academy is just around the corner from where I live. But since I’ve never had any reason to go there it’s almost like a separate planet. A beautiful planet — the layout is just spectacular.

Yesterday I was invited to a rehearsal with the base’s big band, the Jazz Knights. We read through a few things from A Single Sky and few new charts I have been working on. They sound great ! It was a little disconcerting at first, standing in front of a group of musicians in what looked like (granted, to my untrained eye) full battle fatigues. But this band is like a hidden treasure, they are making so much of their service to the country and playing their a##es off while doing it.

Jazz Knights I salute you. Thanks for the music and I hope to visit again soon.

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Diz as Google Doodle

Posted by: admin on October 21, 2010 @ 10:03 am
Filed under: Culture, Humor

On Diz’s birthday — he would have been 93 today — Google commemorates his legacy with a doodle. You can see doodle next to the search field when searching on Google.

Diz Doodle

via BlackWeb
Dizzy is considered a pioneer in bebop and jazz music. He’s credited with influencing such greats as Miles Davis and Fats Navarro. Besides being a musical legend, Dizzy is known by two characteristics: his cheeks and his horn. Google has captured both of these in their Doodle, making his cheeks bright yellow and circular and giving his horn an upward bend.

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The Creature’s Education: Tree Ring Circus

Posted by: admin on October 19, 2010 @ 9:21 am
Filed under: Dave Douglas (News), Events, Spark Of Being

Here’s a clip from the Spark Of Being film by Bill Morrison from his Vimeo feed.

Some great visuals there. The audio, of course, is from Dave Douglas & Keystone. The track: Tree Ring Circus, from the Spark Of Being releases.

Make sure to check out the East Coast Premiere of the film this weekend at the Highline Ballroom. Tickets and info here.

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The Creature's Education: Tree Ring Circus

Posted by: admin on @ 9:21 am
Filed under: Dave Douglas (Updates), Events, Spark Of Being

Here’s a clip from the Spark Of Being film by Bill Morrison from his Vimeo feed.

Some great visuals there. The audio, of course, is from Dave Douglas & Keystone. The track: Tree Ring Circus, from the Spark Of Being releases.

Make sure to check out the East Coast Premiere of the film this weekend at the Highline Ballroom. Tickets and info here.

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Nicole gets her flutes

Posted by: admin on @ 8:00 am
Filed under: Chicago News, Indigo Trio (Updates), Nicole Mitchell (Updates)

In a note written on her Facebook page, Nicole goes through a great story of how the situation of her stolen flutes has been resolved. In brief…

On Thursday afternoon, the day before my tour began, a box arrived to my house from Powell Flutes with a new silver flute inside. Powell has agreed on an ENDORSEMENT and offered a nice discount for a piccolo and flute. Mike Reed (I must call him “HERO”) paid the remaining balance on the instruments. Just hours before I had to left for my concerts in Prague, Brest, Barcelona and Madrid, I now have this beautiful instrument to play on.

But you should read the whole thing. If you aren’t friends on Facebook, you can check it over at the Margasak’s Post No Bills.

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JazzInkBlog: Elements of Style

Posted by: admin on @ 7:43 am
Filed under: Dave Douglas (News), Education, Spark Of Being

From elsewhere on the blog-o-sphere, blogger Andrea Canter writes up the Dave Douglas residency at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis at her JazzInkBlog. Reading it made me want to go back to my college days and sit in those classrooms again. Here’s an excerpt…

Douglas proved to be as articulate and down to earth as an educator as he is in his music. He elicited respect and returned it readily. This was serious business but Dave made sure it was relevant and enjoyable. Everyone had a chance to participate, everyone’s work was worthy of evaluation and suggestion. The workshop proceeded from some brainstorming about the components of music composition to trying out simple ideas and variations on paper and then on stage, mostly the Dakota Combo playing out the concepts on the first night, adding groups of other young musicians the second night as students presented their fledgling compositions. For each composition, Douglas identified at least one kernel of creative energy that he turned into a lesson in vivo, a suggestion for expansion, an opportunity to experiment. And always, a reminder that jazz is a collaborative process, that they are composing for improvisers. “Some of your best ideas will come from members of your band,” he said.

By the end of the second night, at least ten student compositions had debuted on stage, often with Douglas right there in the horn section. And keeping up with his students, Dave also brought in a composition in progress, offering self critique and seeking student comments. A theme throughout the workshop was summed early when he told the young composers, “I don’t want to get technical at the expense of emotion.”


Plenty more to read over there. Plus a few pictures from the workshops. Thanks for posting, Andrea.

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Mike Reed’s People, Places and Things

Posted by: admin on October 18, 2010 @ 2:40 pm
Filed under: Chicago News, Listening

There’s a nice read over at Washington City Paper with Mike Reed, the great Chicago drummer. I’ve seen him several times but haven’t caught his band People Places and Things — check out Reed’s blog for a few pieces on the project. Sounds really great from what I’ve been listening to just these past few minutes.

But back to the WashCity Paper interview…

Washington City Paper: People, Places and Things was formed specifically to explore the music of Chicago in the mid-to-late ’50s. What is important about that era?

MR: It’s the missing piece of the puzzle. People think about Chicago jazz in terms of the AACM and the Chicago Underground of the ’90s, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the Austin High Gang, or maybe Louis Armstrong when he first came here from New Orleans. This is the link between them.

There was so much going on in Chicago at that time, from folks like Sun Ra, Frank Strozier, Booker Little, and the jam-session culture that existed there at the time. I heard a whole hourlong interview not long ago with Sonny Rollins, about when he was in Chicago and living at the Y, and one of his memories was that there were just so many more places to work, even more than in New York. And that kind of fell apart because of that myopic view that New York is the place to be, and when great Chicago musicians like Clifford Jordan and Wilbur Ware decided they had to move to New York, it killed that culture not just in Chicago but in Detroit and Philadelphia.

Also thanks for the Dave Dougals shout out, Mike. Check out the whole interview here.

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