Trumpeter Dave Douglas and his cohorts comprising the Tiny Bell Trio are among the hottest jazzmen on the planet these days. The much revered Tiny Bell Trio, featuring the extraordinary talents of drummer Jim Black and guitarist Brad Shepikfuse European motifs and mold them into a signature style/sound which has become the Trio's hallmark. Newly released on the Winter & Winter label under Dave Douglas' moniker, Songs For Wandering Souls
finds this band extending the rites of passage so to speak. Here, the Trio undertake Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Breath-A-Thon" as Douglas and co. deliver the goods to this wonderful Kirk composition in sprightly and harmonious fashion. The Trio also perform a somewhat pensive rendition of classical composer Robert Schumann's "Nicht so schnell, mit viel." Douglas' composition "Sam Hill" is a richly melodic theme piece as guitarist Brad Shepik's meticulous leads and pleasing chord progressions underscore Douglas' soaring, sweet-sounding and majestic trumpet work. Compositions such as Douglas' "Prolix" and "Loopy" are distinguished by the often complex yet persuasive arrangements which enable this Tiny Bell Trio to sound like a larger ensemble.
While the music presented here is apt to appear enigmatic to some, Tiny Bell Trio manufacture thrills and excitement through soulful and dynamic interaction as the compositions are generally linear yet deeply melodic. The fine line between performing difficult music for mass consumption without becoming self-absorbed is not an easy task and in many instances lends itself to becoming contrived or static. This Trio overcome those imminent obstacles or hurdles in a pronounced and somewhat obvious manner. The title track serves as a melting pot of sorts for this band. Here they demonstrate their seemingly collective mindset of willfully absorbing various ethnocentric musical forms and conveying those distinct genres through the mouthpiece of jazz. The closer, "Ferrous," is a scorcher as the lads turn up the heat a few degrees with Shepik's sweeping chord progressions and unison leads with Douglas' high register and triumphant sounding horn work.
Tiny Bell Trio is an amazingly deep and versatile band! Douglas, Shepik and Black are among the new generation of iconoclasts paving new turf in jazz, which gives credence to the overly simplistic saying..."From here on in, It only gets better..."