489

Dave Douglas: Keystone Live in Sweden

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
In the early days of silent film, scores were played live, most often by a single musician—simplifying the response to the on-screen activities. In recent years artists like guitarist Bill Frisell and clarinetist Louis Sclavis have upped the ante by combining composed music with improvisation on silent film scores for small ensembles, making the coordination of sight and sound much more challenging.

Trumpeter Dave Douglas' Keystone (Greenleaf, 2005) is another contemporary entry, a two-disc release including a DVD of the Fatty Arbuckle short Fatty and Mabel Adrift and a CD with fleshed-out versions of the music. Keystone Live in Sweden, the second release on Douglas' label's Paperback series of budget-priced but high-fidelity live performances, catches the group on an especially good night in October 2005.

Comparing the sextet's version of the "Fatty and Mabel Adrift Suite to the one on the DVD makes it clear just how much freedom Douglas' music affords. There are periods of pure freedom, where turntablist DJ Olive and effected Fender Rhodes player Adam Benjamin—who replaces the studio release's Jamie Saft—create a wealth of texture. But when bassist Brad Jones and drummer Gene Lake emerge from the ambience into more defined grooves, providing Douglas and saxophonist Marcus Strickland the opportunity to solo alone or in tandem, the underlying road map becomes self-evident.

Perhaps the only problem here is that the performance is so compelling that in concert it must be difficult to keep one's eyes on the film—drifting, as often as not, to watch the group. Whether that's criticism or praise depends on how you look at the situation. But in the case of this CD, where you don't have to make such difficult choices, it's possible to enjoy the music completely on its own merits.

There's plenty of high-octane playing, especially on the up-tempo "Part Five, where Strickland and Douglas playfully orbit around the theme, and during "Part One, where Strickland takes a particularly lithe solo. But there are also lyrical moments, notably halfway through "Part Three, where Douglas' muted trumpet and Strickland's soprano work off each other as they segue into the theme from the syncopated "A Noise from the Deep.

The balance of the material fleshing out this live set is a mix of two full tunes from Keystone and two new pieces—the greasy funk of "Pool Sharks and more boisterous encore, "Luke the Dog. Sadly, the logistics of putting on such multimedia events inherently prohibit extensive touring. But thankfully, this series appears purposefully aimed at giving those who can't partake of the live experience a chance to hear what they've missed.


Track Listing: Fatty and Mabel Adrift Suite: Part One; Part Two; Part Three; Part Four; Part Five. The Real Roscoe; Mabel Normand; Pool Sharks. Encore: Luke the Dog (score for Fatty's Plucky Pup).

Personnel: Dave Douglas: trumpet; Marcus Strickland: saxophones; Brad Jones: bass; Adam Benjamin: Fender Rhodes; Gene Lake: drums; DJ Olive: turntables.

Title: Keystone Live in Sweden | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Greenleaf Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Bright Yellow with Bass CD/LP/Track Review Bright Yellow with Bass
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Groovin'" CD/LP/Track Review Groovin'
by Jeff Winbush
Published: November 2, 2016
Read "My Scandinavian Blues: A Tribute To Horace Parlan" CD/LP/Track Review My Scandinavian Blues: A Tribute To Horace Parlan
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 8, 2016
Read "Wanderlust" CD/LP/Track Review Wanderlust
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Can't Get Started" CD/LP/Track Review Can't Get Started
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 24, 2017
Read "Glenn Gould in Russia: Bach, Beethoven, Berg, Webern, Krenek" CD/LP/Track Review Glenn Gould in Russia: Bach, Beethoven, Berg, Webern, Krenek
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 16, 2017
Read "Carry Fire" CD/LP/Track Review Carry Fire
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 22, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.