DAVE DOUGLAS SEXTET Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow. Wed 4 Jul.
n a period when a fierce debate has raged in jazz
circles over the current direction of the music,
Dave Douglas has found himself cast as a figurehead for the progressives. Not that Douglas denies his tendencies in that direction, but in his view there are many other equally deserving musicians working at the cutting edge.
The argument revolves around a tradition vs innovation debate which has dogged jazz more or less from the outset of its century-long, notoriously factional history. The emergence of Wynton Marsalis and a generation of high-profile players using received historical forms has led some to fear that jazz will cease to move forward.
Players like Douglas have been eagerly seized upon as standard bearers for new directions. The trumpeter’s credentials are impeccable. His work in the so-called ‘downtown’ scene in New York includes membership of John Zorn’s superb Masada.
A memorable Masada concert at Flux in 1998 furnished one of his two previous appearances in Scotland. The other (equally impressive) was with his Tiny Bell Trio at the CCA in 1999, and he leads several other combinations, including the great sextet in which he makes his festival debut. It represents his most overt jazz expression, but don’t expect him to toe a purist line.
‘l’m not a purist, I’m a militant anti-purist. I’ve always been interested in music on the fringes of genre, and the music I like best brings together a lot of different impulses. That makes it not only emotionally stimulating but also intellectually exciting. It has a thought process and a heart process, and I try to bring that into my own work.
‘As far as the jazz vocabulary is concerned, I am an American, but I don’t feel like I’m trying to protect a certain legacy of music. Like many artists, | feel
like I‘m a somewhat rootless contemporary urban dweller, and I’m challenged by trying to bring together a lot of different things. We have all assimilated so much music now, and the question then becomes how to make a sincere statement with all of those available elements, and that‘s what I’m shooting at with my different projects.‘
Douglas has consistently probed the boundaries of his chosen forms. However, when he has addressed himself more directly to the jazz tradition, as in his tribute discs to Booker Little, Wayne Shorter and Mary Lou Williams (all with the sextet), he has done so in fascinatingly unorthodox and innovative ways, using mainly original music.
The music must not only be emotionally
stimulating but also intellectually exciting. It must havea thought process and a heart process.
‘For me, too many projects of that kind are so close to the original that they become a bore. I like my records to be full of life and have ambiguities. There are moments in those records when my music relates to their work on a very specific level, and others where it is extremely intuitive.’
His art is based on questioning rather than repetition, on transgression rather than conformity. His influences range from rock and folk music to Varese and Stockhausen, but his love for jazz was sparked by a year spent in Barcelona as an exchange student, during which he had his first real taste of improvisation and experiment.
Back in America, he worked at absorbing the jazz idiom, and toured Europe with Horace Silver in 1987, but his own inclinations increasingly led him into less explored territory. He is a major creative force on the contemporary jazz scene, and brings a powerful band to Glasgow, featuring fellow downtown luminaries Greg Tardy (saxophones), Joshua Roseman (trombone), Uri Caine (piano), James Genus (bass) and Ben Perowsky (drums). Be there, or be positively cuboid.
HENRI TEXIER TRIO
Tron Theatre. Glasgow, Thu 5 Jul.
CHICK COREA TRIO Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, Fri 6 Jul.
‘ THE LIST 43