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Dave Douglas: Freak In

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Dave Douglas, whose 40th Birthday Celebration week at the Jazz Standard in March featured the trumpeter with many of his diverse ensembles, requests you put on headphones when you listen to his latest, Freak In. Well, it may not be Douglas himself, but someone requests you put on headphones, and also that you "call on world leaders to do the same."

What Douglas (and Bluebird's art department) is picking up on—with goofy phrases and deadpan pictures of stuffed animals—is that jazz need not be marketed the way it has always been, with slick suits or misty-eyed pictures of jazz clubs. Sure, marketing is just the icing on the cake, but what this indicates is that Douglas is deliberate about every genre-bending note on the album.

For years, Douglas has been involved in all sorts of breaking down and building back up of existing structure. But now Douglas has refined his approach, and has made a record that defines its own style. The album opens on the title track with a classic drum 'n bass feel, though that motive also happens to be outlined by Karsh Kale's tablas and accompanied by Seamus Blake on saxophone, Marc Ribot on electric guitar and Douglas playing the melody. The song quickly takes flight and you begin to sense Jamie Saft's programming and loops coming into the mix, and Ribot growing more rebellious with his effect pedals. And it works.

Later, on "Wild Blue", sparse percussion and sound effects accompany a robot-voiced monologue. This is certainly odd, but it also sounds like the same band as before, which is a real accomplishment. Douglas keeps good company here, with Ribot, Blake, Chris Speed, Joey Baron and Ikue Mori, among others. The impression is that these musicians are happy to work on the project, spreading out and discovering new sonic realms. Clearly, Douglas does not want rock bands having all the fun. And incidentally, he was right, the subtleties do sound crisper with headphones.


Track Listing: Freak In; Culver City Park; Black Rock Park; Hot Club of 13th Street; Eastern Parkway; November; Porto Alegre; The Great Schism; Wild Blue; Maya; Traveler There Is No Road; Bonus Track.

Personnel: Dave Douglas: trumpet, keyboards, voice; Jamie Saft: keyboards, loops, programming; Marc Ribot: electric guitar; Karsh Kale: tabla and additional drums; Joey Baron: drums; Romero Lubambo: acoustic guitar; Brad Jones: Ampeg baby bass, acoustic bass; Ikue Mori: electronic percussion; Seamus Blake: saxophone; Chris Speed: saxophone, clarinet; Craig Taborn: Fender Rhodes; Michael Sarin: drums.

Title: Freak In | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Bluebird

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