Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

5

Dave Douglas: From Revolution to Revelation

Ludovico Granvassu By

Sign in to view read count
AAJ: You are a progressive musician, very forward looking. Over the years you've been carving a very personal path. What is it that inspires you when you revisit the music of masters like Dizzy Gillespie, Mary Lou Williams or Booker Little?

DD: That music is very much alive for me. When I play it, it's a way for me to say "I'm so in love with this music. Let me get as close to it as I can and see if I can tell somebody else why they should love it as much as I do!" My way of doing that is to focus on my feelings about that music, and put them through a prism. When I played the repertoire of Mary Lou Williams, I wrote some arrangements of her pieces as well as a number of originals after having spent time thinking about the way she used melody, harmony, rhythm, improvisation, timbre, density, and about the different phases of her life. I tried as best as I could to understand what she went through to get to that music. In the case of "Dizzy's Atmosphere" my starting point was asking myself "We're in 2018. Why is it important that we continue to try to understand Dizzy Gillespie and to listen to his compositions? What is it about that music that is so special? How can we contribute something of our own to it in order to keep that vision alive?"

AAJ: So, in a way, you are looking at these masters of the past as examples of forward-looking artists to draw an inspiration from, not only in terms of repertoire but, more importantly, in terms of vision and attitude?

DD: All of these artists were visionaries, progressives, at the very forefront of their field. So I don't feel like I'm looking back. I feel like I'm looking at something that's very contemporary. Each person's revolution is a personal revelation. That's the thing that we try to get to, day after day, in this music. Take Italian pianist Franco D'Andrea, for instance. He's older than me, but when I play with him I feel like I'm playing with someone who is as revolutionary as any other true artist I play with.

Going back to Dizzy Gillespie, how can you look at Dizzy's life without thinking that there was a social impact, an awareness around his work and comparing that with the environment in which we are operating now. We are making choices about what is going to happen to our planet and to vulnerable communities. Choices about how we are going to valorize culture and the humanities as we go forward as a species. I think those things are the reason that music and the arts exist and I don't see any project that I do as being any more or less socially conscious on that level. A good improvising group of musicians is the perfect model of how society can work. We come up as improvisers learning that we have to figure out how to work together. We all come into it with our different visions of what a good sound is and what procedures should be and what the end result would be, but we learn to collaborate and work together towards a common result that is good. And I think that that's what we should hope our leaders can learn to do as well.

AAJ: Why did you choose the subtitle "Dizzy Gillespie at Zero Gravity" for "Dizzy's Atmosphere"?

DD: Wayne Shorter has been a guiding star for me over many years. "Zero Gravity" is the term that he has been using to talk about his music and his approach. I can't presume to sit here and tell you that I have the complete understanding of what that means. I see it as a metaphor. It's a way of thinking about making music, which you can hear in Wayne and his amazing playing with his band; now more then ever they're playing with so much freedom... I hope to be able to do the same when we'll play "Dazzy's Atmosphere" and that we will not be holding onto anything, that we'll be playing this music with an incredible sense of freedom, fearlessness, without grasping on anything, being completely naked and vulnerable, putting the music out there.

AAJ: How are you going to approach Dizzy's repertoire for this project?

DD: I didn't want to take a masterpiece like "Manteca" and just play it the way Dizzy Gillespie played it in 1957 at Newport, for example, which is my favorite recording of it. I feel that there's still a lot more that can be done with it. And so I'm trying to open up the bonds of the music and let these great improvisers that play with me find some new paths in there... in zero gravity.

AAJ: Speaking of Wayne Shorter, you are about to release the second chapter of Sound Prints, the band dedicated to his music that you co-lead with Joe Lovano. How will the new album, Scandal (Greenleaf Music), differ from Sound Prints: Live at Monterey Jazz Festival (Blue Note -2015)?

DD: The first Sound Prints album was recorded live at the Monterey Jazz Festival. We had two commissioned new works from Wayne Shorter that we were playing on that record. For Scandal we wanted to document all the experiences that we've had on the road playing that music together. So Joe and I each brought to the session five compositions and we each made an arrangement of a Blue-Note-era Wayne Shorter tune. I made a new arrangement of "Fee Fi Fo Fum" and Joe made an arrangement of "JuJu." You can hear that it's clearly the same band, but I think it's also taking several steps forward and it has become our statement about Wayne and his music, and perhaps also about the state of music now.

Photo credit: Roberto Cifarelli

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Garden State

Garden State

Dave Douglas
Time Travel

Bad Mango

Bad Mango

Dave Douglas
Bad Mango

The Gulf

The Gulf

Dave Douglas
Orange Afternoons

Safeway

Safeway

Dave Douglas
Rare Metals

In Pictures
Live Reviews
Catching Up With
CD/LP/Track Review
Genius Guide to Jazz
Read more articles
The New National Anthem

The New National...

Greenleaf Music
2017

buy
Little Giant Still Life

Little Giant Still...

Greenleaf Music
2017

buy
Dark Territory

Dark Territory

Greenleaf Music
2016

buy
Dada People

Dada People

Greenleaf Music
2016

buy
High Risk

High Risk

Greenleaf Music
2015

buy
Brazen Heart

Brazen Heart

Greenleaf Music
2015

buy
Date Detail Price
Apr12Fri
8:00 pm
Dave Douglas: Dizzy Atmosphere
Wortham Theater Center
Houston, TX
$37.50-67.50

Related Articles

Read Jay Clayton’s ScatLab—A Vocal Jazz Workout Catching Up With
Jay Clayton’s ScatLab—A Vocal Jazz Workout
by Suzanne Lorge
Published: December 4, 2018
Read Gary Urwin: Inside the Mind of an Arranger Catching Up With
Gary Urwin: Inside the Mind of an Arranger
by Rob Wood
Published: November 18, 2018
Read Devon Allman: Chipotle Blues Catching Up With
Devon Allman: Chipotle Blues
by Scott Mitchell
Published: November 4, 2018
Read Bobby Broom: Classic Compositions from Yesterday to Today Catching Up With
Bobby Broom: Classic Compositions from Yesterday to Today
by Corey Hall
Published: October 26, 2018
Read Stefon Harris: The Tradition of Jazz Catching Up With
Stefon Harris: The Tradition of Jazz
by Kevin Press
Published: October 16, 2018
Read Mike Stern: Living through a Jazz Clinic Catching Up With
Mike Stern: Living through a Jazz Clinic
by Rob Wood
Published: October 5, 2018
Read "Michael Weiss: Building an Identity" Catching Up With Michael Weiss: Building an Identity
by Luke Seabright
Published: May 2, 2018
Read "Michael Blicher: Groove is in the Heart" Catching Up With Michael Blicher: Groove is in the Heart
by Mark Youll
Published: February 27, 2018
Read "Erik Friedlander: Reversing Abstraction" Catching Up With Erik Friedlander: Reversing Abstraction
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: July 31, 2018
Read "Michael Feinstein: Errands and Rhythm Galore" Catching Up With Michael Feinstein: Errands and Rhythm Galore
by Rob Wood
Published: September 21, 2018
Read "Tiffany Austin: Unbroken" Catching Up With Tiffany Austin: Unbroken
by Walter Atkins
Published: June 8, 2018
Read "Jay Clayton’s ScatLab—A Vocal Jazz Workout" Catching Up With Jay Clayton’s ScatLab—A Vocal Jazz Workout
by Suzanne Lorge
Published: December 4, 2018