Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy: Spirit Moves (2009)
Dave Douglas' combo, Brass Ecstasy, follows the spirit-trail of Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, at once looking way back to the old New Orleans street traditions then picking up moves from the Rebirth and Dirty Dozen Brass Bands. Douglas is joined by Luis Bonilla (trombone), Vincent Chancey (French horn) and Marcus Rojas (tuba) with Nasheet Waits manning the drum set. It's an inspired lineup, drawn from diverse stylistic quarters. Indeed, Chancey and Bonilla were actually members of Brass Fantasy.
Just like that group, Douglas likes to tip in a few popular tunes from non-jazz composers, but the majority of this album's compositions are his own. Opening with "This Love Affair" (Rufus Wainwright), the way ahead is bordered by crackling electricity. This might be a mournful parade, but its melancholy procession is flecked with hope. Leading into a run of Douglas pieces, "Orujo" establishes an elephantine funk shuffle, with tuba setting out to be silkily plump for each selection. "Twilight Of The Dogs" is replete with beaming textures, just before Douglas offers a trilogy of dedications: "Bowie," "Rava" for Italian trumpeter Enrico and "Fats," Navarro rather than Waller. "Bowie" has the most involved structure on the entire disc, jackknifing from one sub-section into another, with solos chasing each other, from trombone to trumpet to French horn while "Rava" has a contemplative introduction that picks up into a glimmering glide.
Emerging from homage-land, "The Brass Ring" is stately and studied. The disc's most straight-ahead bouncing arrives with "Mister Pitiful" (Otis Redding/Steve Cropper) and the following "Great Awakening" sounds just so, blossoming into a grandiose celebration. The closing float back towards melancholy re-establishes the album's opening mood, with "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," taking things way back to Hank Williams. Douglas keeps his passion in a carefully sculpted state, but it's always present throughout this lush recording.
Track Listing: This Love Affair; Orujo; The View From Blue Mountain; Twilight Of The Dogs; Bowie; Rava; Fats; The Brass Ring; Mister Pitiful; Great Awakening; I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry.
Personnel: Dave Douglas: trumpet; Luis Bonilla: trombone; Vincent Chancey: French horn; Marcus Rojas: tuba; Nasheet Waits: drums.