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Dave Douglas

Dave Douglas at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 2007.
Background information
Born March 24, 1963 (1963-03-24) (age 46)
Genres jazz
free jazz
electronic music
Occupations composer/bandleader/sideman
Instruments trumpet
Years active 1984 - present
Labels Greenleaf Music, RCA, Winter & Winter Arabesque, Soul Note
Associated acts Masada
Notable instruments
trumpet, cornet

Dave Douglas (born March 24, 1963) is a U.S. jazz trumpeter and composer whose music is notable for drawing on many non-jazz musical styles, including classical music, European folk music and klezmer. He has been a member of the experimental big band Orange Then Blue. Douglas is currently the director of the Festival of New Trumpet Music, which is held annually in New York City.

Since 1993, Douglas has recorded more than twenty albums as a bandleader. He has also performed and recorded with dozens of musicians, perhaps most notably with various John Zorn ensembles. With his own groups, Douglas has pioneered new settings for the trumpet in jazz and expanded concepts of what the music (and music in general) can be. In more recent years, he has explored collaborations involving modern dance, spoken word/poetry, and film.


Early years

Douglas grew up in the New York City area and attended Phillips Exeter Academy, a private high school in New Hampshire. He discovered jazz while on an abroad program in Spain. After graduating from high school in 1981, he studied at the Berklee School of Music and New England Conservatory, both located in Boston, Mass.

In 1984, Douglas moved to New York to study at New York University (NYU) and finish a degree in music. Meanwhile he played with a variety of ensembles and came to the attention of the famous jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader Horace Silver. Douglas played with Silver from 1987 to 1990.


Dave Douglas (in black) with Masada

In 1993, Douglas began performing with John Zorn in his Masada quartet, which blended the influences of saxophonist/composer Ornette Coleman with Jewish folk musics. The band became one of Zorn's most long-standing and popular ensembles, and brought Douglas wider attention.

Since the mid 90s, Douglas has led a variety of groups simultaneously. His first album as a leader, Parallel Worlds (1993), featured the composer backed by a string trio performing his own compositions and music by Webern, Kurt Weill and Stravinsky. Meanwhile Douglas formed two new groups, the Tiny Bell Trio, and his sextet. The former performs what Douglas calls "Balkan improvisations." It is unusual in its instrumentation (trumpet, guitar, drums) and blends Eastern European folk influences with jazz. The Sextet features the classic instrumentation of trumpet, tenor sax, trombone, piano, bass, and drums. This group focuses on the music of great jazz composers and Douglas pieces inspired by those musicians. Their first release was a tribute to the late trumpeter Booker Little.

In 1996, Douglas recorded Sanctuary with Cuong Vu, Anthony Coleman, and other musicians of the New York downtown scene of the time. The group involved sampling and DJ improvisations in addition to jazz.

In 1997, Douglas started a quartet featuring trumpet, violin, accordion, and bass which recorded Charms of the Night Sky incorporating Eastern European and Jewish folk musics as well as jazz influences on the music, which is generally mellow and relaxed. The album included a number of tracks with Douglas and accordionist Guy Klucevsek performing as a duo. A second album by the Charms of the Niht Sky group, A Thousand Evenings was released in 2000.

Also in 1997, Douglas founded another quartet. The Dave Douglas Quartet performs wild, freewheeling music, influenced by the bands of Ornette Coleman and John Zorn.


SFJAZZ Collective—from left to right: Andre Hayward, Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano and Miguel Zenón at the North Sea Jazz Festival of 2007. Photo by Siebe van Ineveld

In 2000, Douglas released Soul on Soul, a tribute to composer and pianist Mary Lou Williams featuring original arrangements of her music for the Sextet and new pieces inspired by her work. The album received great praise, and Douglas won the Down Beat critics polls for trumpet, composer, and album of the year in 2001. Douglas also released albums featuring Charms of the Night Sky and the Dave Douglas Quartet in the same year.

In the early years of the decade, Douglas worked often with the Trisha Brown Dance Company. El Trilogy, an extended musical work accompanying modern dance, was performed from 2000-2001.

Witness, an ambitious nine-part suite, was released in 2001. It features a band made up of trumpet, sax, two electric pianos, electronic percussion, bass, and drums. Douglas's music had always been informed by his political concerns, but this album was his most ambitious attempt to give them musical form, often by celebrating his political and cultural heroes through dedications and track titles. The album includes a 20 minute track entitled "Mahfouz" in which gravel-voiced singer Tom Waits reads an excerpt from the works of Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz, as well as pieces dedicated to Edward Said and Taslima Nasrin.

More recently, Douglas founded the Dave Douglas New Quintet and Nomad. The Quintet is a trumpet and tenor sax-led group but with Fender Rhodes electric piano. Their first album, The Infinite (2001) featured Douglas originals and pieces by or inspired by popular musicians Rufus Wainwright and Thom Yorke. This was followed up by 2004's Strange Liberation by the same group with special guest Bill Frisell on guitar. Formed in 2003, Nomad is made up of trumpet, clarinet, cello, tuba, and drums. With this band, Douglas performed his suite Mountain Passages, commissioned for the Italian Sound of the Dolomites Festival, and released as the first album on Douglas' record label Greenleaf Music in 2005. The suite features a variety of different influences including Italian Ladino music, New Orleans jazz, and other musics, and is to be played from 9 to 12,000 feet above sea level.

Douglas has also started a new band called Keystone, which performs works influenced by the silent film actor and director Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle. The project includes pieces to be performed with Arbuckle's films. This ensemble is made up of trumpet, tenor sax, Wurlitzer (electric piano), turntables, electric bass, and drums. A CD of this music – accompanied by a DVD with two Arbuckle shorts – was released in 2005.

2006 saw Douglas release Meaning and Mystery, where he plays again with his quintet, now with Donny McCaslin in place of Chris Potter on saxophones. In December 2006, Greenleaf Music recorded all the quintet's performances over a six-night engagement at New York's Jazz Standard jazz club called Live at the Jazz Standard (Complete Book), making the two-hour-long sets the band played each night available for download from the company's website within 24 hours. The 44 compositions, almost all of them by Douglas alongside covers of Rufus Wainwright, Mary J. Blige and Björk, featured 14 tunes not previously recorded by the band. Those 14 new compositions were release on a 2-CD set Live at the Jazz Standard in 2007.

In late 2007, Moonshine, a further recording by Keystone was released. This was based upon recordings made of a live concert performance by the band at that year's Bray Jazz Festival in Ireland. The Keystone band then led a 5-night run at Jazz Standard in New York in April 2008. Greenleaf Music recorded and released all ten sets through their website as a download-only series, Keystone: Live at Jazz Standard (Complete Book).

In 2009 Douglas released two albums: Spirit Moves by his Brass Ecstasy band which featured Vincent Chancey, Luis Bonilla, Marcus Rojas and Nasheet Waits, and A Single Sky, a collaboration with Jim McNeely and the Frankfurt Radio Bigband.

Discography (as leader)

Title Year Label
Parallel Worlds 1993 Soul Note
The Tiny Bell Trio 1994 Songlines
In Our Lifetime 1995 New World
Constellations 1995 hatHUT
Five 1996 Soul Note
Live in Europe 1997 Arabesque
Sanctuary 1997 Avant
Stargazer 1997 Arabesque
Moving Portrait 1998 DIW
Charms of the Night Sky 1998 Winter & Winter
Magic Triangle 1998 Arabesque
Convergence 1999 Soul Note
Songs for Wandering Souls 1999 Winter & Winter
Soul on Soul 2000 RCA
Leap of Faith 2000 Arabesque
A Thousand Evenings 2000 RCA
El Trilogy 2001 BMG
Witness 2001 RCA
The Infinite 2002 RCA
Freak In 2003 Bluebird
Strange Liberation 2004 RCA
Bow River Falls 2004 Koch
Mountain Passages 2005 Greenleaf Music
Live at the Bimhuis Set 1 & 2 2005 Greenleaf Music
Keystone 2005 Greenleaf Music
Meaning and Mystery 2006 Greenleaf Music
Keystone: Live in Sweden 2006 Greenleaf Music
Live at the Jazz Standard (Complete Book) (12 set run, download-only release) 2006 Greenleaf Music
Live at the Jazz Standard (2-CD) 2007 Greenleaf Music
Moonshine 2007 Greenleaf Music
Keystone: Live at Jazz Standard (Complete Book) (10 set run, download-only release) 2008 Greenleaf Music
Spirit Moves 2009 Greenleaf Music
A Single Sky 2009 Greenleaf Music

Discography (as sideman)

Album Artist Title Year Label
Second Sight Second Sight 1988 Sun Jump Records
Vincent Herring American Experience 1989 Musicmasters
New and Used Souvenir 1991 Knitting Factory Works
Orange Then Blue While You Were Out 1992 GM Recordings
The Band Jericho 1993 Pyramid/Rhino
Don Byron Plays the Music of Mickey Katz 1993 Elektra
Mark Dresser Force Green 1994 Soul Note
Masada Masada, Vol. 1: Alef 1994 DIW
Mosaic Sextet Today, This Moment 1994 Konnex
Mark Dresser The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1995 Knitting Factory Works
New and Used Consensus 1995 Knitting Factory Works
Masada Masada, Vol. 2: Beit 1995 DIW
Masada Masada, Vol. 3: Gimel 1995 DIW
Masada Masada, Vol. 5: Hei 1995 DIW
Masada Masada, Vol. 6: Vav 1995 DIW
Fontella Bass No Ways Tired 1995 Nonesuch Records
Fred Hersch Point in Time 1995 Enja
Anthony Braxton & Mario Pavone Seven Standards 1995 1995 Knitting Factory Works
John Zorn Bar Kokhba 1996 Tzadik
Suzanne Vega Nine Objects of Desire 1996 A&M Records
Myra Melford The Same River, Twice 1996 Gramavision Records
Dave Douglas and Han Bennink Serpentine 1996 Songlines Recordings
Sheryl Crow Sheryl Crow 1996 A&M Records
Uri Caine Toys 1996 Winter & Winter
John Zorn Filmworks III: 1990-1995 1997 Tzadik
Marc Ribot Shoe String Symphonettes 1997 Tzadik
Uri Caine Urlicht/Primal Light 1997 Winter & Winter
François Houle & Dave Douglas In the Vernacular: The Music of John Carter 1998 Songlines Recordings
Sean Lennon Into the Sun 1998 Capitol Records
Masada Masada, Vol. 7: Zayin 1998 DIW
Masada Masada, Vol. 8: Het 1998 DIW
Masada Masada, Vol. 9: Tet 1998 DIW
Masada Masada, Vol. 10: Yod 1998 DIW
Patricia Barber Modern Cool 1998 Premonition Records
What We Live Quintet for a Day 1998 New World Records
Greg Cohen Way Low 1998 DIW
Myra Melford Above Blue 1999 Arabesque Records
Sean Lennon Half Horse Half Musician 1999 EMI
Masada Masada, Vol. 4: Dalet 1999 DIW
Masada Masada, Vol. 7: Zayin 1999 DIW
Masada Live in Jerusalem 1994 1999 Tzadik
Masada Live in Middleheim 1999 1999 Tzadik
Masada Live in Taipei 1995 1999 Tzadik
Uri Caine The Sidewalks of New York: Tin Pan Alley 1999 Winter & Winter
Masada Live in Sevilla 2000 1999 Tzadik
What We Live Trumpets 2000 Black Saint
Joe Lovano Flights of Fancy: Trio Fascination, Vol. 2 2001 Blue Note Records
Misha Mengelberg Quartet Four in One 2001 Blue Note Records
John Zorn The Gift 2001 Tzadik
Masada Live at Tonic 2001 2001 Tzadik
Mosaic Sextet Mosaic Sextet 2001 GM Recordings
Brad Shepik Trio Short Trip 2001 Knitting Factory Works
Masada First Live 1993 2002 Tzadik
Patricia Barber Verse 2002 Premonition Records
Myra Melford Even the Sounds Shine 2003 Hathut Records
John Zorn The Unknown Masada 2003 Tzadik
Masada 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 7 2004 Tzadik
Masada Sanhedrin 1994-1997 2005 Tzadik
Martial Solal & Dave Douglas Rue de Seine 2006 Sunnyside
Anthony Braxton Six Standards (Quintet) 1996 2006 Splasc(h)
Kenny Werner Lawn Chair Society 2007 Blue Note Records
Masada with Joe Lovano Stolas: Book of Angels Volume 12 2009 Tzadik

External links



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