Recorded one afternoon during the Banff Workshop, Bow River Falls is trumpeter Dave Douglas' first cooperative effort since New and Used in the early '90s. Douglas, clarinetist Louis Sclavis, cellist Peggy Lee and drummer Dylan Van Der Schyff all contributed compositions, mostly from their earlier discographies, which were rearranged for this session. Perhaps because of the idyllic setting or the "leaderless" collaboration, the music exudes the relaxed confidence of musicians performing at their peak, despite their sparse rehearsal time.
The jaunty ebullience of "Blinks," by the late Steve Lacy, provides the first workout, with Douglas and Sclavis exchanging turns through the solo sections. The mood shifts on the title tune, becoming more spacious and atmospheric, with Van Der Schyff's laptop sounds and Lee's mournful cello creating a cushion for Douglas' tender muted trumpet. Percussion is often used as color, not just rhythm, as on Sclavis' "Fete Forraine," with its lolling pace and airy unison melody. Lee provides a walking pulse for the brass/reed lines of "Maputo," which finds Sclavis' rich, woody bass clarinet solo trailing into a Douglas flight, before the cellist adds a haunting solo to the episodic composition.
The insistent, building movement of Douglas' "Petals" finds fluttering trumpet accompaniment to Sclavis' solo, often locking with the cello, while the percussive flourishes push the intensity. Lee's "Retracing 2" unfolds in waves, the dynamics ebbing and flowing. "Paradox," the Douglas standard (making its third recorded appearance), closes the set with its shifting melody and gentle swagger, supporting Sclavis' incendiary solo and Van Der Schyff's marching rolls and nimble work around the kit.
The colors and textures assembled on Bow River Falls reflect its diverse cast and the flowing results suggest that the musicians found common ground to communicate. Hopefully, this will be an auspicious start for continuing collaboration.
Blinks; Bow River Falls; Fete Forraine; Window; Maputo; Petals; Retracing 2; Dernier Regards/Vol; Woman at Point Zero; Dark Water; Paradox
Dave Douglas (trumpet), Louis Sclavis (clarinet, bass clarinet), Peggy Lee (cello), Dylan Van Der Schyff (drums, laptop)
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