Dave Douglas on Monk and Dizzy

Posted by: mark on February 21, 2018 @ 5:06 pm
Filed under: Artists, Dave Douglas, Uncategorized

Ahead of this weekend’s Dizzy Atmosphere shows at Jazz at Lincoln Center, we’re sharing a piece that Dave Douglas wrote on the musical legacies of Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk which appeared in the Swiss magazine Jazz N More.

One Hundred Years of Hiptitude: Monk and Dizzy

I like to hear the voices of musicians talking about the how and why of the music. After spending so much time listening to Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie, I feel particularly lucky to have Dizzy’s memoir, To Be Or Not…To Bop. It’s a profound source about his life and work, as well as the words of his friends, family and many of the musicians. Monk left no such memoir that I know of, and seemed to be man of few words. But his interview in Art Taylor’s Notes and Tones, as well as the biography by Robin D.G. Kelley and the film ’Straight no Chaser,’ give a sense of the relationship of his work to his life, and one thing is very clear. These were really different guys. As a young musician, only familiar with their music, this would have surprised me.

The way the musicians tell it, Monk and Dizzy landed independently on a new conception of harmony in the mid to late 1930s. They did it in very different ways. Both born in the Carolinas in October 1917, they converged with their solutions in New York by the early 1940s.

Dizzy, an acolyte of Roy Eldridge who emerged with an original sound under multiple swing era band leaders says, “Our influence on one another’s music is so closely related that Monk doesn’t actually know what I showed him. But I do know some of the things he showed me.” Monk’s approach developed outside any specific system of training or pedagogy, on tour with vaudeville acts and religious tent shows. He was undocumented on record until 1944, and so seemed to emerge fully formed. By 1947 he was ready to record the bulk of his wildly inventive original compositions for Blue Note.

Both acknowledged Charlie Parker as a third pillar in the evolution of this new harmonic approach. Both also mentioned the drummer Kenny Clark as a crucial catalyst in changing the rhythmic feel of the new music. Of course there are many others who played important roles. And the music also had its detractors. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

In high school (age 15 or so) I attempted to write an essay proving that Parker was sole true originator. It was an absolute nonsense idea that ended unceremoniously in a failing grade. Pointless. But it did lead me to a lot of music, and both Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie as composers and improvisers have been pole stars for me ever since. And not just their music, but their influence on generations of musicians who have come after, influencing me. There is something about the music of both men that contains the nuts and bolts of learning to improvise, that’s about learning a distinctive compositional language, about learning to think, and live, like a creative artist.

I often thought of Monk as primarily a composer and Dizzy primarily as a performer. That idea is also wrong.

For me, learning the Monk songbook, the core 70 compositions, was what lead me to a greater appreciation of him as a player. I think of the Monk works as analogous to the collection of Bach’s Chorales. Each one takes a simple text and proposes a sophisticated solution, worked over ingeniously throughout the piece. Each one uses the foundational principles of melody, harmony and rhythm to define a new, richly lived musical space that often defies the standard uses of melodic intervals, phrase lengths, harmonic resolutions, and rhythmic flow. To me, the pieces are so convincingly whole because you can play them over and over and find new details each time. Monk did. He paraphrased the melody in almost every moment of his solos. It’s one of the things that makes him a such a powerful and recognizable player.

For me, the overwhelming virtuosity of Dizzy’s improvisations carry daunting lessons (still do). But maybe it is his use of melody to ’spell’ harmony (thus opening the door to Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, John Coltrane and generations up to this very day) that led me to reexamine his work as a composer, arranger and band leader. With Dizzy, there’s a warmth of spirit pervading every performance, a generous welcoming of alternative sources of music, and an almost perverse sense of humor used to disarm the squares and the unsuspecting.

The one thing they found at the same time — changing jazz through its use — was the tritone. My feeling is that Dizzy Gillespie arrived at the ‘flatted fifth’ though melodic variation, whereas Monk got to the ‘raised fourth’ though harmonic invention. They both found ways to re-harmonize popular song forms using harmonies based on the use of the flatted fifth / raised fourth. Tritone substitutions became one of the hallmarks of the new sound, and many of their signature compositions used this device in various ways.

In his book, Dizzy mentions that Monk showed him the minor flat five chord. He referred to it as a minor triad with the sixth in the bass. So that would be like Eb minor over C, essentially creating a minor seventh chord with a flatted fifth. When followed by an F7b9 chord, this created an important advance in harmonic voice leading in jazz. Dizzy used this device early on to compose ‘Algo Bueno’ (also known as ‘Woody ’N You’) and ‘Manteca.’ Monk used it in one of his earliest and best known pieces, written with Cootie Williams, ‘Round Midnight.’

For explicit use of the interval itself, just look at the first bars of Dizzy’s ‘Salt Peanuts’ or the melody of Monk’s well-titled ‘Raise Four.’

I was riding in the car a few days ago, listening to a collection of Dizzy’s music I put together. ‘In The Land Of Oo-Bla-Dee,’ the song Mary Lou Williams wrote for Dizzy’s 1949 band, came on. One of my friends said, almost to himself, “That’s the most bebop thing I’ve ever heard.” There it is, the tritone hard at work!

Whether it’s ‘Crepuscule With Nellie’ or ‘A Night In Tunisia,’ Dizzy and Monk define a time and transcend it. Their profound reinvention of form, of rhythm, harmony and melody put them in the pantheon of great creators. I feel like without them, it would be difficult, maybe impossible, to learn to play song-based improvised music. I am grateful to have them in my life.

And I wish Misha Mengelberg, profound Monk devotee, were still around because he would disagree with everything I have said here, including this sentence.

Dave Douglas, New York, October 2017.

The world premiere of Dizzy Atmosphere takes place in the Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center on February 23 and 24. Dave Douglas will be joined by trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Joey Baron.

There are 7:00pm and 9:30pm sets both nights. Tickets are available here.

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Farewell 2017!

Posted by: mark on December 31, 2017 @ 4:48 pm
Filed under: Artist Update, Artists, Chet Doxas, Dave Douglas, Greg Ward, Riverside, Rudy Royston, Ryan Keberle, Subscriber News, Uncategorized

Thank you to all of our supporters for making 2017 a great year for Greenleaf Music!

We offered our Metamorphosis Subscriber Series, released 5 albums, launched nine podcasts and moved our subscription service to the Bandcamp platform.

We have much planned for 2018, including new releases by Dave Douglas, Ryan Keberle, Rudy Royston, Sound Prints and Greg Ward as well as a new Subscriber Series coming in January!

We are grateful to all of you for visiting the website, buying records, becoming subscribers and helping to support creative independent music!

All the best in 2018 and Happy New Year!

Team Greenleaf


2018 Releases:

Ryan Keberle & Catharsis, Find the Common, Shine a Light
Riverside, The New National Anthem
Dave Douglas and the Westerlies with Anwar Marshall, Little Giant Still Life
Dave Douglas Quintet, Brazen Heart Live at Jazz Standard: Saturday
Dave Douglas Sextet, Pathways

2018 Podcasts:

Episode 39: Pianist Kris Davis
Episode 40: Trombonist Roswell Rudd
Episode 41: Saxophonist Joe Lovano
Episode 42: Saxophonist James Brandon Lewis
Episode 43: Dave Douglas highlights trumpeters on WKCR (1/3)
Episode 44: Dave Douglas highlights trumpeters on WKCR (2/3)
Episode 45: Dave Douglas highlights trumpeters on WKCR (2/3)
Episode 46: Carla Bley & Steve Swallow
Episode 47: Charles Tolliver, Keyon Harrold and Meghan Stabile

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High Risk Tours Europe July 20-29

Posted by: mark on July 18, 2016 @ 4:06 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Euro Poster

In support of the new record Dark Territory, Dave Douglas & High Risk will tour Europe July 20-29, with shows in France, Spain, Germany, England and Italy.

[bandcamp width=100% height=42 album=3934701147 size=small bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5]
The group will feature electronic artist Shigeto, bassist Jonathan Maron and special guest Ian Chang from Son Lux on drums.

Check out the complete schedule:

Dave Douglas & High Risk – European Tour July 2016

07.20 Narbonne, France | Palais Des Archevêques
07.21 San Sebastian, Spain | 51 Heineken Jazzaldia
07.22 Souillac, France | Place Pierre Betz
07.23 Munich, Germany | Unterfahrt Jazzclub
07.24 Madrid, Spain | Terraza Teatro Galileo
07.25 London, England | Pizza Express Jazz Club
07.26 London, England | Pizza Express Jazz Club
07.27 Rome, Italy | Casa del Jazz
07.29 Marciac, France | L’Astrada

Read some of the great press about the new record here.

You can purchase the new album via Bandcamp, iTunes and Amazon.

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NY Times Previews Rudy Royston ‘303’ Run at the Village Vanguard

Posted by: mark on June 23, 2016 @ 11:45 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Nate Chinen at the New York Times previews the Rudy Royston ‘303’ group’s run at the Village Vanguard next week:

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 22.45.22

Read the full listings here. Reservations can be made here.

Rudy’s 303 record can be purchased from Bandcamp, iTunes and Amazon.

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High Risk US Dates Announced!

Posted by: mark on April 5, 2016 @ 3:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

In support of their upcoming release Dark Territory, Dave Douglas‘ High Risk featuring Shigeto, Jonathan Maron and Mark Guiliana will perform select US dates in May.

HighRisk_BandLogo2016_Hires copy

They’ll be at Boston’s Regattabar on Friday, May 6 and Brooklyn’s Roulette on Saturday, May y. Both of these are debut performances in both cities!

Get your tickets now, pick up a copy of the record, and here this great group live!

Tour Dates:

Friday, May 6 – Regattabar – Cambridge, MA Buy Tickets
Saturday, May 7 – Roulette – Brooklyn, NY Buy Tickets

Dark Territory, the group’s latest release,  will be available exclusively on 180 Gram vinyl beginning Record Store Day on Saturday, April 16.

We’ll be announcing dates for an extensive European tour in the summer! Stay tuned and see you out there!

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Leap Year Day Sale – One Day Only – Save 30%!

Leap Day

In celebration of Leap Year Day, we’re offering 30% off our entire catalog for one day only!

Buy anything at our store on Monday, February 29th and save using coupon code “leap29” when you checkout. Don’t miss this one-time opportunity to pick up CDs, LPs, DVDs, downloads, sheet music and more at a deep discount.

Everything is on sale until midnight tonight!

Visit our store here and thank you for supporting independent music!

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Dave Douglas + Uri Caine – European Tour 2016!

Posted by: mark on February 22, 2016 @ 2:25 pm
Filed under: Dave Douglas & Uri Caine, Uncategorized

We’re happy to announce that Dave Douglas and Uri Caine will embark on a European Tour. From February 26 to March 8, they’ll be appearing in Poland, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Hungary and France. See all the tour dates below and check out Present Joys, their acclaimed 2014 duo recording. See you out there!


02.26 Studio Koncertowe Polskiego Radia – Warsaw, Poland – Buy Tickets
02.27 Auditorium le Fornaci – Terranuova Bracciolini, Italy – Buy Tickets
02.28 Teatro Nuovo – Pisa, Italy – Buy Tickets
02.29 Teatro San Goirgio – Udine, Italy – Buy Tickets
03.01 Den Amer – Diest, Belgium – Buy Tickets
03.03 Handelsbeurs Concertzaal – Gent, Belgium – Buy Tickets
03.04 Maison Folie Beaulieu – Lomme, France – Buy Tickets
03.05 Birdland Jazz Club – Neuberg, Germany – Buy Tickets
03.06 Solti Hall – Budapest, Hungary – Buy Tickets
03.07 Cinema Vittoria – Monopoli, Italy – Buy Tickets
03.08 Le Petit Faucheux – Tours, France – Buy Tickets

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Test Posty

Posted by: mark on August 3, 2015 @ 3:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


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Birthday Greetings

Posted by: Dave Douglas on March 24, 2013 @ 10:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Thanks for the good wishes. Here’s a free track for the downloadin’. Have a great one.

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Free Ringtones from Matt Ulery’s By A Little Light

Posted by: admin on December 10, 2012 @ 9:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

If you’re like us, you have a number of custom ringtones on your iPhone that you use for your alarm clock, text and email alerts, and even a specific tone for when your BFF calls. We have a whole slew of ringtones on our office computer from our artists, and here are 7 of them, all by Matt Ulery from his album By A Little Light that’s been receiving so much deserved attention lately. We hope you enjoy and share this post. Together we can rid the world of “Marimba,” “Bell Tower,” and the dreaded “Blues.” Drop us a line if you’d like to request a ringtone from our catalog.

What’s included:

1. Broken and Blinded
2. Dark Harvest
3. Miniaturist
4. Processional
5. Somebody Somewhere
6. To Lose Your Mind
7. Wilder Years

Price: $0 (please consider sharing this post)

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