If you were to play a game of 'name that artist' while listening to the recording First Nature, roughly half of the contestants would identify the band as the Dave Douglas Quartet, not because Tomasz Dabrowski has a derivative sound, but more as a compliment to his range and imagination. The Polish trumpeter, now a Scandinavian resident, penned half the compositions heard on this recording, and alto saxophonist Sven Dam Meinild the remainder. Dąbrowski's Danish quartet is rounded out by bassist Richard Andersson and drummer Peter Bruun (Django Bates, Samuel Blaser, Marc Ducret).
The recording is the first in a trilogy tribute to biodiversity. The series is based on author Anna Tsing's book The Mushroom at the end of the world: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins which examines the triumph of nature over the ecological destruction man has wrought on this planet. Climate change denying jazz fans can still find much to like in this recording. The key is a balanced mix of composed material and improvisation. Meinild and Dąbrowski (think Dave Douglas and Jon Irabagon) often play in unison, then split in support of the other's solo. "Importance Of Madness" ticks like a clock that does not know its velocity before unfurling into a gentle colloquy between trumpet and saxophone. These conversations, like those heard on "Cordovan," "Matsutake," and "Hjemmefødsel," are made possible by Andersson's robust bass, and the limber, adroit drumming of Bruun. The music, like it's environmental theme, is post-modern and post-structuralism, taking pieces and parts of post-bop avant-garde with equal measures of lyricism. Let's hope it can stave off the post-apocalypse.
We Can’t Stop Now; Hjemmefødsel; Importance of Madness; Pony Squad; The Dialogues; Cordovan; Klangtrae; You Don’t Look Very Cheerful; Matsutake.