Rare Metals.

Posted by: Dave Douglas on July 21, 2011 @ 9:05 am
Filed under: Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts), Greenleaf Portable Series (GPS)

Thanks to those of you who have picked up Rare Metals , Volume 1 from the Greenleaf Portable Series. Also thanks to all who have come out to the European shows going on right now and picking up the special flash drive containing both GPS Vols. 1 & 2.

A lot of Rare Metals was written during my residency at the Aaron Copland House. In particular Safeway, which was written as a response to the political violence in Tucson, Arizona which occurred the day I began my residency. Copland himself was constantly speaking to contemporary events and public engagement in his music, and I felt that influence, as well as some of his musical mannerisms, strongly as I composed.

During that month I also found myself engaged in a study of the music of Duke Ellington and as I rolled his music around in my mind this arrangement of Billy Strayhorn’s Lush Life emerged as something that could be potently voiced in brass. I thank the band also for deftly interpreting the re-arrangement.

Town Hall had been written the previous summer during the Tea Party uprisings of the same name. I went to a few of these meetings myself and saw the extremes of both patriotism and intolerance manifest. We live in interesting times.

Thread was written thinking of one of my musical idols, Henry Threadgill. His systems have always intrigued me and on the reissue of some of his great recordings last year I found myself thinking about his work its impact on current practice.

Night Growl was a chance to feature tubist Marcus Rojas, long the heroic purveyor of the vocalistic growl. Here he gets to work out on an unusual sort of blues. Those who have seen photos of my dog, Finley, should know that the initial inspiration lies therein.

And United Front, which I wrote during a tour with Brass Ecstasy, reflects the cohesive spirit and team play that has come define this band. We have a lot of fun playing this one, though this studio version is quite different than the one you’ll find on the album United Front: Live in Newport. Vive la difference.

Next up: GPS Vol. 2 with Ravi Coltrane, Vijay Iyer, Linda Oh, Marcus Gilmore, and myself.


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Aaron Copland: Champion of American Composers.

Posted by: Dave Douglas on January 21, 2011 @ 2:44 pm
Filed under: Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts)

In his lifetime, Aaron Copland gave us so much music, and so much specifically American music. We just heard Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man once again played at an important national moment: the memorial ceremony in Tucson, Arizona. It was uplifting to once more hear that piece under such powerful circumstances.

What may be less known is how much time and effort Copland gave to other composers. One enduring aspect of that generosity is the residency created at his home in Cortlandt, New York. I have the good fortune of residing in the studio this month and it is a gift of peace, focus, and creative intensity. Needless to say, writing is going rather well under the circumstances.

The music collection here is daunting. I had hoped to blog about some discoveries among the recordings, scores, and books, and I may still do that, but right now it is impossible to single out anything. There is simply too much. And with the beautiful piano and the old pine writing desk, it’s hard to stop writing. I can only encourage other composers to apply, and once again thank Aaron Copland for providing this incredible resource for all of us.

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