Dave Douglas: The Infinite (2002)
Of course, on the surface it might seem like this is Douglas' tribute record to Miles Davis. I mean, all the signs are there- Uri Caine's exclusive use of Fender Rhodes, the muted trumpet in spots, and a direct quote of "Boplicity" that occurs during "Penelope." But like the cover of a book, things aren't always what they seem. For one thing, Douglas is clearly his own man and the implications of his own musical personality forego the obvious. Still, the title track has a strong Shorterish quality to it and the interface between Douglas and Chris Potter and retort from the entire rhythm section throughout is the kind of multi-level interaction that marked Davis' best ensembles.
Much has been made of the inclusion of several pop tunes here, but they have been so transformed as to be almost unrecognizable. Mary J. Blige's "Crazy Games" takes off on a samba beat with both Potter and Douglas making strong statements along the way. Building to a resourceful climax, Bjork's "Unison" finds our two lead men intertwined with their collective thoughts, as Potter sputters away on bass clarinet.
Douglas' own originals are jam-packed with furtive pathways and mysterious turns that lead to new directions and a collective ensemble methodology that reveals itself further with successive exposures. Each member of this new group is innovative on their own, but they pack quite a collective punch as lead by Douglas.
Track Listing: Poses, The Infinite, Penelope, Crazy Games, Waverly, Yorke, Unison, Deluge, Argo
Personnel: Dave Douglas (trumpet), Chris Potter (tenor sax & bass clarinet), Uri Caine (Fender Rhodes), James Genus (bass), Clarence Penn (drums)
Record Label: Bluebird