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.

Cheers.
Dave

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We Love Late Ellington Suites Madly.

Posted by: Dave Douglas on October 18, 2010 @ 8:34 am
Filed under: Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts)

In Stanford this past summer one of their friendly drivers had Duke Ellington’s Latin American Suite in his disc player. I started to really look forward to those rides…

Photo: Roberto Polillo

The late sixties/early seventies suites like The Queen’s Suite, the UWIS Suite, The Goutelas Suite were always among my favorites. I covered from the UWIS Suite on my first recording, Parallel Worlds. They’re very different than the 20’s, 30’s, 40′ or 50’s Ellington. Billy Strayhorn must also get a nod for the richness and complexity, as well as the down to earth quality of the band’s playing.

After my summer driving experience I pulled out some of the other late suites and they have just been flooring me (again). New Orleans Suite, Suite Thursday, Latin American Suite — there’s some crazy stuff in there. The length and breadth of Ellington’s career is just astounding.

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