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A Single Sky
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"A Single Sky" is a perfect mesh of Douglas' progressive ideas matched by the accessibility of a big band. It's pretty obvious that tracks like "The Presidents" and "Blockbuster" were written specifically for this big band project, but I also like how older Douglas songs have been reformatted for the occasion. One that stands out to me, if I'm listening closely, is "Bury Me Standing." It's slow and languid, serving up some deep harmonies that would have made Benny Goodman pass out. The original recording of this tune comes from "Mountain Passages," which I also highly recommend.
The title track was originally the shortest (I think) song from "Strange Liberation." It sort of feels like a footnote to begin a book. Here it's stretched into being the longest song on the album. Not only that, but the energy level can be almost...well, unrecognizable from the quintet version recorded with guitarist Bill Frisell.
Bottom line: big band suits Dave Douglas well. It doesn't change him. He adapts slightly but his style is intact. I was concerned it would sound overtly normal, but it does not. Highly recommended. I know that his album with Brass Ecstasy was more talked about in 2009, but this is really, really good.
This is Dave Douglas' first foray into Big Band Jazz. This CD contains 3 songs (The Presidents, Campaign Trail, & Blockbuster) written by Douglas as part of a big band suite inspired by the 2008 election. The other 4 songs are Dave Douglas songs arranged by Jim McNeely for a big band. The music is performed by Douglas and the Frankfurt Radio Big Band. The overall sound of the CD is big band post bop. While I really enjoyed the CD, I don't like it quite as much as the recent smaller group work that Dave's been performing.
A Single Sky - This track alone is worth the price of the CD. It opens with a cool swirling horn section, reminiscent of the opening of Miles Davis' arrangement of Airegin from Cookin. A few minutes into the song there is some trading fours with some quick blistering solos. Later in the song there is a nice solo section with two simultaneous solos, and there is also a section that features the drummer. A real nice modern swinging big band tune.
The Presidents - This is best of the new songs. The tune opens with a regal presidential sounding theme and switches back and forth between this and a darker Phrygian/Spanish sounding chord progression. A cool new tune.
The Persistence of Memory - I don't really remember the original version so well, but this version makes me want to go back and see what I missed. This is a great arrangement and mood piece. It almost has a bossa nova feel at times, but not quite.
This CD adds another shade of Dave to your collection.