Dave Douglas Quintet – Brazen Heart (2015) [HDTracks FLAC 24bit/88,2kHz]

Dave Douglas Quintet – Brazen Heart (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 63:00 minutes | 1,24 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Booklet, Front Cover | © Greenleaf Music

Dave Douglas is a prolific trumpeter, composer and educator from New York City. This album is dedicated to his older brother, Damon, who died of cancer in June 2015; and among its 11 tracks are two of the most beautiful hymns in the book, “Deep River” and “A Balm in Gilead”, both played with passion, grace, and horn harmonies reminiscent of “Abide with Me” on Monk’s Music. “Brazen Heart” contains a familiar, but increasingly sophisticated mix of post-bop reveries, virtuosic dazzlers, and lilting ballads. And, as with most Douglas albums, the sound quality is superb.

The instrumentation remains simple: a classic acoustic jazz quintet lineup. And Douglas’ writing for this group, no matter how far it strays from the tried-and-true, remains deeply rooted in the jazz tradition. Though the individual members of the band are actively involved in some truly radical musical experimentation, Douglas seems to prefer other venues for his own experiments with electronics (e.g., High Risk, Greenleaf Music, 2015) and hyphenated genre-crossing hybrid musics. The comforting familiarity of the instrumentation and the inclusion of two gorgeous hymns (“Deep River” and “There is a Balm in Gilead”) aside, Brazen Heart is one of Douglas’ more risky and adventurous albums. And—if you know Douglas’ music—that’s saying something.

“Hawaiian Punch,” a medium tempo piece that juxtaposes a lengthy, but very pretty, melody against a jagged succession of heavily syncopated unison hits, evokes the music of Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols in a highly personal way. Matt Mitchell’s comping sounds a tad wayward until you get to his deeply insightful solo. Linda May Han Oh’s virtuosic bass improv is similarly on-point. The intellectually funky “Miracle Gro” is no less engaging. Backed by Rudy Royston’s sly machinations, everyone takes brief solos over the changes before the massive, ultra-majestic theme kicks in. Here, the solos tend toward the spare and icy-cool, while the thematic material provides the drama. That said, Jon Irabagon manages to whip up quite a lather here. “Inure Phase” is exactly that: super quick tempos, cliffhanging melodic lines, chiaroscuro harmonies, crazy polyrhythms, and Royston’s unbelievable drums rolling and crashing all over the place. The closest thing to a ballad among Douglas’ new pieces is “Phyrric Apology;” a rhapsodic mid-tempo piece that frames particularly fetching slow-burn solos by Douglas and Irabagon before taking off into the stratosphere. The rest of Douglas’ originals are no less bracing, each a showcase for some different aspect of this amazingly talented and soulful band.

The two hymns are understated and tender; contrasting with, yet not incongruous to the brainy dynamism that dominates Brazen Heart. And there’s not a whiff of the mawkish or sentimental. Instead, there’s a palpable sense of fortitude and gutty resolve at play here. Sure, it’s jazz, but on these tracks Douglas and his quintet seem to be channeling the same sort of understated, gospel-inflected mojo that artists such as The Band, Sam Cooke, Van Morrison, and Ben E. King are able to access with stunning regularity. Fittingly, Douglas has chosen to pay tribute to his brother by bravely, brazenly, stepping forward with some of his most advanced and technically challenging music to date.

01 – Brazen Heart
02 – Deep River
03 – Hawaiian Punch
04 – Inure Phase
05 – Lone Wolf
06 – Miracle Gro
07 – Ocean Spray
08 – Pyrrhic Apology
09 – There is a Balm in Gilead
10 – Variable Current
11 – Wake Up Claire

Produced by Dave Douglas. Engineered by Aaron Nevezie.
Recorded on February 3, 2015 at Bunker Studios, Brooklyn, NY.
Mixed & Mastered by Tyler McDiarmid.

Dave Douglas – trumpet and compositions
Jon Irabagon – saxophones
Matt Mitchell – piano
Linda Oh – bass
Rudy Royston – drums



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