Year End thoughts from Dave Douglas: 2014

Posted by: mark on December 29, 2014 @ 4:08 pm
Filed under: Dave Douglas, Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts), Perennials

dd1My gosh, so many challenges this year. The world scene is so complex, it’s hard to know where to begin. Better to think about 2015! Much new music was created in 2014 that will emerge in the new year:

Music for 16 musicians, in four groups of four, based on 14th century ars nova musical thinking, entitled “Fabliaux”. Had the pleasure and honor to collaborate with Paul Grabowsky and the Monash Art Ensemble in Melbourne, Australia on the performance and recording. Will emerge in the Fall.

Whole handful of new quintet pieces for Jon Irabagon, Matt Mitchell, Linda Oh, and Rudy Royston. Can’t wait to begin touring these in 2015.

Music for and by Wayne Shorter with the Sound Prints ensemble, co-led by myself and Joe Lovano. With Lawrence Fields, Linda Oh, Joey Baron. A lot of you saw us on the road. The record comes out in April 2015 on Blue Note Records. We’ll play at Lincoln Center in May.

New Band! High Risk with Shigeto on electronics, Mark Guiliana on drums and electronics, and Jonathan Maron on bass and mini-moog bass. I play trumpet. We have already recorded and the record will come out in the first half of 2015. I am working feverishly on it right now. Very excited to premiere this new vision of improvised music and electronics.

Greenleaf continues to expand our catalog and offerings. Look for a new Donny McCaslin electric recording early in the year! Can’t wait. Also, more special offerings for subscribers. The Greenleaf Podcast, A Noise From The Deep will continue!

Festival of New Trumpet Music will be back with a new season in September 2015. More info and nonprofit donation information at

Also, thanks to the French American Jazz Exchange, I will be working in collaboration with French composer and pianist Frank Woeste in January. We are creating a new work around the life and work of surrealist Man Ray. Matt Brewer and Clarence Penn will join us in the ensemble. Looking forward to more new things!

Thank you and have a great holiday!



Dave Douglas Workshop Wrap-up

Posted by: mark on December 8, 2014 @ 3:55 pm
Filed under: Dave Douglas, Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts)


The Dave Douglas Workshop took place at the Michiko Stage Room yesterday. Thanks to all who attended!

We had a nice balance of instruments and instrumentalists. We played through one of my pieces and 7 pieces that were brought by participants. Everything sounded great–each piece presented a different set of challenges and opportunities. We discussed in depth: different approaches to writing for improvisers, different approaches to rehearsal, and clarity of notation and communication between the composer and the player.

I learned a lot, as I always do in these situations. Clarity, above all, seems to be the key thing. Clarity, even if it is your intention to be unclear, do it with clarity! What is your idea, how is it expressed, and how do you communicate it to a community of players, all with their own differing backgrounds and expectations? How do you unite that community in order to express that idea? It’s funny that each piece presents its own responses to these questions. Each piece demands its own answers. And yet we seemed to always come back to clarity as a key to expression. How we feel, how we think, how we speak, all comes through in the music.

I’m grateful to be able to offer these independent workshops, and I am thankful to the musicians who show up and share their music and their thoughts. We plan another workshop some time in the spring. Stay tuned to this channel for more information.

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Sound Prints European Tour Wrap-up

Posted by: mark on December 5, 2014 @ 9:45 am
Filed under: Dave Douglas, Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts)
photo: Lorenzo Duaso

photo: Lorenzo Duaso

Greenleaf owner and operator Dave Douglas comments on his recent European tour with Sound Prints. Check the player on the bottom for a preview of the upcoming album on Blue Note records.

Sound Prints toured throughout Europe in November. I think it was 12 cities in 14 days. Something like that. I never took so many urgent naps, and rarely have I had so much joy playing music every night. The touring party was myself, Joe Lovano, Lawrence Fields, Linda May Han Oh, and Joey Baron. Many readers of this post saw us on this tour and heard the new directions the music took night after night right on stage. Those listeners will know that the band veered into some radical new territory, fresh conversations taking place in the music, and new spirits being conjured in real time. The relationship of playing with Joe Lovano is one of the deepest and most challenging and fulfilling of my musical life. I feel privileged to be a part of this band.

Sound Prints will reconvene in May 2015 on the release of our album on Blue Note Records. The album was recorded on stage at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2013. The new music we have been playing by Wayne Shorter was commissioned by the festival and premiered there. We also recorded two pieces by Joe and two by myself, music dedicated to the project and to celebrating the vision, music, and inspiration of Mr. Shorter. Since that time there have been many more new pieces brought into the band, and I look forward to continuing these explorations in sound and dialogue.

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Dave Douglas and Frank Woeste Chosen for French-American Exchange Program

Posted by: mark on November 19, 2014 @ 5:54 pm
Filed under: Dave Douglas, Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts), Events


Dave Douglas and French pianist Frank Woeste are 1 of 5 selected duos to take part in the French-American Jazz exchange program. The French-American Jazz Exchange (“FAJE”) celebrates the shared passion for jazz in France and the United States. A partnership of FACE Foundation and Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, the program is designed to foster the creative and professional development of jazz artists from France and the United States through their collaborative investigation of artistic practice and exposure to new audiences, music concepts, and professional relationships.

French pianist Frank Woeste will collaborate with trumpeter Dave Douglas to create a new repertoire for a jazz quartet comprised of trumpet, bass, piano, and drums based on the work of Man Ray, the influential American modern artist who was a significant contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements of the 20th Century. Influenced by Ray’s works known as “readymades,” which were pieces created out of ordinary, everyday objects, the project, entitled, “The Art of Reinvention,” will include time for composition and rehearsals followed by a recording session in New York.

Here are some words about the program from Greenleaf Music Chief Officer, Dave Douglas:

The French American Jazz Exchange is the kind of crazy idea that miraculously erupts in crazy new music! I am so grateful to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and the other organizations involved in making these musical dreams a reality. This is a project that should occur across all sorts of boundaries geographical, political, and human.

Look at the projects this year alone: Nicole Mitchell with Sylvan Kassap, Steve Lehman with Maciek Lasserre, Somi with Herve Samb, and Yosvany Terry with Baptiste Trotignon. My project this year will be a new collaboration with French pianist Frank Woeste. Our project will be in dedication to French American surrealist, Man Ray. We will produce new music for a quartet including Matt Brewer, bass, and Clarence Penn, drums. I met Frank when I was introduced to him in another French-sponsored project, a collaboration with Ibrahim Maalouf.

We are both writing music now. Man Ray is a rich font of inspiration, and the cross-cultural aspects of his program speak to both Frank and myself.

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Hard Choices and Non-American Football

Posted by: Dave Douglas on June 30, 2014 @ 7:04 pm
Filed under: Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts)

The World Cup is such a kick every time it comes around. (Yes, that pun deserves a yellow card, I will be more careful). Wonderfully international and egalitarian as it is, watching the latest matches has me thinking through some tough choices. And noticing some of the madness around it.

Speaking of hard choices, by now you’ve most likely seen the recent meme about the trolley problem:

There’s a runaway train barreling down the tracks. You see five people tied up ahead, unable to move. The train’s headed straight for them. Miraculously, there’s a lever next to you which will switch the train to a different track. Tragically, you notice there’s also one person tied up on the other track. There’s no intermediate switch, the train can only go on one track or another. Do nothing, and the train kills five people. Or do you pull the lever, saving five, but killing one? Tough choice. Most people quickly choose #2 — doing less harm.

Here is “The Trolley Song” to listen to while you read the rest. Since we’re talking about Brazil, thank you, Joao Gilberto.

There’s a variation on this enigma called The Fat Man:

As above, the train is hurtling down a track towards five people. This time you are on a bridge overhead, and you can stop the train by dropping a heavy weight in front of it! Also, there’s a very fat man next to you. Your only way to stop the train is to push the fat man over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?

Yikes. Most people pause here because you actually have to actively cause harm this time to stop a worse outcome. What would you do? There is no right answer.

Luckily this is all hypothetical. This is not like having to choose between the Village Vanguard and The Stone, where there are two great bands you’d like to hear. Choosing one means missing the other. Or hearing one your all time heroes at an overseas jazz festival versus going back to the hotel to get a good night of sleep before tomorrow’s early wake up call and travel to the next gig. This happens to me at least five times per summer.

If you’ve been watching the World Cup, like it or not you’ve had to make some difficult choices. This has nothing to do with the chauvinism of Ann Coulter (or with Hillary Clinton’s memoir, “Hard Choices.”). Coulter said, “I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer.” My family’s been here a long, long time and we’re all freaking out over the Brazil games. My friend Marc Ribot responded by saying:

Most of the Americans I know whose great grandfathers were born here are Black. Most of my African American friends certainly seem interested in soccer. But somehow I don’t think they were who Coulter had in mind.  I don’t know many whites whose great grandfathers were born here. Of the ones I do know know, some seem to like watching soccer. Are my friends representative? I don’t know. But that begs the questions:  Why exactly would anyone care what a dwindling minority of politically marginal white American non-soccer watchers does or thinks? And who still believes Ann Coulter’s ‘promises’?

No, the choice is whether to simply appreciate the awesome skills and brilliant teamwork of the sport, as opposed to honoring the suffering and displacement caused by the games (by boycotting and protesting them).

Billions of dollars are spent on stadiums that may never get used again. These billions get spent in a country of rampant poverty and inequality–in the favelas people could really use the money. In addition, there are preferential contracts for FIFA that eliminate any leverage for workers and displaced families. Yikes indeed.

And yet, it’s a remarkable year for the sport. The USA has a viable team this time around and has joined the group of 16. It’s hard not to be enthusiastic for Tim Howard and the squad. There have been thrilling matches. South and Central America have been dominant this year. Epic battles have eliminated big traditional giants. It’s like a hundred degrees and 95% humidity and these guys run for ninety minutes straight. Amazing.

So, what to do? (If you’re England, go home, apparently. Sorry, Nick).

It’s one of those moments where you have to hold two competing thoughts in your mind. The matches are good, the message is good. The management is exploitative, the money corrupts, inequality abounds. How much is my decision to patronize the games complicit in the problems? Who knows? Maybe not at all.

I’m a musician, lucky with the kinds of choices I get to make. If you could keep the trolley from hitting anybody, that’d be good, right? You could catch the first set at The Stone and the second set at the Vanguard. Hear Sonny Rollins and then hope to take a nap tomorrow afternoon before the gig.

Tuesday we’ll find out whether our team can vanquish Belgium. I’ll be rooting for USA, but I also love Belgium, and I am grateful our team has come even this far.

And we can all hope some good comes out of this for Brazil and Brazilians.

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Remembering Roy Campbell Jr.

Posted by: Dave Douglas on March 21, 2014 @ 9:12 am
Filed under: Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts)

Roy Campbell Jr

Roy and I were playing in rival street bands in New York when I met him in 1984. He was about 10 years older than me. The way it worked was that someone would come down early to stake out the best spots: City Hall, Times Square, Astor Place, the Plaza. So Roy and I were from opposing teams and yet Roy was the first trumpeter I met and befriended in the city. He was one of the most enduring and loyal of colleagues; our paths crossed many times, in many ways.

Roy was a majestic player. His range and creativity were always a marvel in ways both technical and emotional. But the thing he had that was so special was that inner fire. You’d see him about to go into the music with his horn and he’d get that sparkle in his eye, that little smile. It was a look that told you this guy knew what he was there for and was ready to go get it. Look out!

Click here to read the rest of the story over at JazzTimes.

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Boulder Blog

Posted by: Dave Douglas on March 5, 2014 @ 1:30 pm
Filed under: Dave Douglas, Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts)


John Gunther is creating a fantastic music program out at University of Colorado at Boulder. Trumpeter Brad Goode is there, too. Amazing player! I just had the opportunity to spend a week with all of them and was mesmerized by the creative energy and commitment going on on campus. I am enthusiastic about these great young players. Also got to meet and play with wonderful pianist and composer Art Lande, a real hero of American music.

We talked music: who’s listening to what, how to find new music, both one’s own and that of others. Also, is there any particular importance in playing music that is “new?” What do we mean when we use the word “authentic?” Interesting to think about and reexamine answers to these queries. How does learning the musical past impact the practice of one’s own music? I always feel that every individual answer to this is valid.




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Dave Douglas Workshop at Jazz Education Network (JEN) Saturday January 11

Posted by: Dave Douglas on January 10, 2014 @ 9:44 am
Filed under: Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts), Dave Douglas (News), Events, Workshop

556700_10151318143781206_1342787754_naJazz Education Network conference in Dallas, Texas on Saturday, January 11th. In addition to coaching, I will be performing at noon with the BYU Synthesis band on the Inspirations stage.

At 4pm in the Pegasus room I am sharing a hands-on composition workshop. Bring a pencil and manuscript paper as we go through some ideas about generating material and overcoming writer’s block. Members of the BYU band will be playing and writing, then demonstrating some of the ideas that emerge. Should be fun and enlightening. Come say hello if you are down there!

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Greenleaf Artists Sound Off: Year End Observations & Music Thoughts

Year end thoughts from Dave Douglas, Grammy nominee Donny McCaslin, Michael Bates, Linda Oh, Kneebody, Matt Ulery


Dave Douglas

Henry Brant would be 100! After co-producing his 52 trumpet piece with Festival of New Trumpet Music, I discovered his book called “Textures and Timbres: An Orchestrator’s Handbook.” It is extraordinary, a great insight into what made that music so powerful. I will spend another 50 years trying to digest it. It’s still in print, and worth looking up.

Wayne Shorter turned 80. John Zorn turned 60. I turned 50. Joe Lovano and I were honored to have a small role in the Wayne Shorter events, playing with our quintet, Sound Prints, with Lawrence Fields, Linda Oh, and Joey Baron, at several celebrations. The Zorn at 60 marathons were some of the most inspiring days of music I have ever seen; definitely like playing on an all-star team. And traveling with my own quintet, with Jon Irabagon, Matt Mitchell, Linda Oh, and Rudy Royston, has been one of the most challenging and fulfilling musical experiences of my life. It is a profound pleasure developing the music with these good people. We still have about 15 states to go and I look forward to working on that! Stay warm and we will hope to see you in Hawaii in the cold season.


Miguel Zenon, Oye, Live in Puerto Rico
Jonathan Finlayson & Sicilian Defense, Moment & The Message
Mauro Ottolini Sousaphonix, Bix Factor


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DDQ in the Southeast.

Posted by: Dave Douglas on October 11, 2013 @ 9:50 am
Filed under: Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts), Dave Douglas (News), Events

dd50_logo1-optSome thanks are in order. One of the most inspiring parts of the US tour has been meeting the people along the way. People who make musical events possible in their cities, towns, and regions are really crucial to the opening up of possibility around the country. We’ve been blessed to meet up with some fantastic supporters of the arts in our 50 state travels.

In Louisville, Kentucky, John Harris at the Clifton Center is presenting a diverse set of musical events and we were thrilled to be a part of it. Also, Mike Tracy at University of Louisville was instrumental in making the workshops and presentations happen.

In Knoxville, Tennessee we were hosted by my old friend Greg Tardy, saxophonist, who, along with Vance Thompson, Donald Brown and others is leading an outstanding program at UT. I had a blast playing with Greg again. At the same time we were hosted by Ashley Capps and the Square Room for our acoustic set in front of an electric audience.

The next day was a workshop in Asheville, North Carolina and a concert in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Thanks to Brian Felix and Bob Hinkle for making this happen. Also a big thank you to Greenleaf’s own Jim Tuerk (no, it is not pronounced ‘Twerk’, much as we would enjoy that) for driving us and bringing box sets and vinyl LPs to all our shows.

Britt Theurer has a great program at East Carolina and I was grateful for the invitation to speak to his brass students in Greenville, North Carolina.

Finally for this run, Matt White, trumpeter and producer at Coastal Carolina University near Myrtle Beach, brought us to South Carolina for an awesome show at Wheelwright Auditorium. Matt is making great things happen there and you can check out his new record at this link.

On the way home I stopped in Richmond, Virginia to reunite with trumpeters Rex Richardson and Taylor Barnett and play material for three trumpets and rhythm section. Thanks to Antonio Garcia for inviting me to his program at VCU and making this special concert possible. There was a post concert visit to McCormack’s Whiskey Grill along with Reggie Pace, Bryan Hooten and other members of NO BS! Brass, not soon to be forgotten!

And, yes, I am training for a marathon again and running in every city we visited so far. Loving that Rail Trails seem to be springing up all over the country. We’re back on the west coast now and the Pacific vistas are impeccable. Today in Oakland, California; tomorrow Portland, Oregon; Saturday, Seattle, Washington, and then we will be in Europe for a couple of weeks. Hope to see you out there. Dave

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