25

Trumpet From On High

Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius By

Sign in to view read count
How the hell he went from New York to Alberta is probably an interesting story in itself. I’ll bet it had something to do with a rogue element of the RCMP and the elite group of Jazz artists who double as international crime fighters. Kind of like INTERPOL, with rhythm.
I recently celebrated my sixteenth anniversary at AAJ with a quiet ceremony held in the mahogany-paneled Writer's Lounge at AAJ Headquarters in Philadelphia. I'm not much of a cake person, but there were cheesesteaks from Sonny's and enough alcohol to get an entire fraternity through a regulation 30-day month. Commodore Ricci and my fellow member of the Southern contingent C. Michael Bailey were there. A good time was had by all, and most of the charges will eventually either be dropped or reduced to misdemeanors.

But then.

During the festivities, one member of our stalwart band of longtime contributors asked me a very pointed question, "Why don't you ever profile more recent Jazz artists?" I pointed out that I have, in fact, profiled such current luminaries as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Bill Carrothers, and Brad Mehldau. "But that was years ago," they protested, "a lot has changed in Jazz since then." I pointed out that, as far as Our Music is concerned, change is the only constant and everything old is new again. And then the whole thing turned into a pointless megillah much like that "tastes great/less filling" polemic.

Upon reflection, though, I decided that I had been neglecting the cutting edge of Jazz. Part of the reason, of course, is that Jazz is not one monolithic thing measured by sheer popularity like Top-40 music. In fact, the Digital Age has caused Our Music to dissolve like an Alka Seltzer, and trying to document it is like trying to follow each individual bubble. Jazz doesn't have superstars, at least not the same as other genres of music have. Our artists are more individuals, less into chasing trends or courting fleeting fame like pop stars do. I'd mention some pop stars by name, just as examples, but for the fact that I lost track of pop culture somewhere in the late Eighties.

Those of us involved in Jazz in any sort of regular fashion can come up with a list of current "big names" in Jazz. But I'd bet that, if you asked twenty people, you'd get twenty radically different lists. But of the few names that might be on every list, I'd be willing to bet the remainder of this article on the fact that Dave Douglas would be one of them.

Moving forward.

Dave Douglas was born on March 24, 1963, in East Orange, New Jersey. Little is known about his formative years, because no one has had the prescience to update the Wikipedia page from which I get most of my background information. I do know that he attended Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, but apparently discovered Jazz while abroad in Spain, which is the very textbook definition of taking the long way home. When he graduated, he studied at both the prestigious Berklee* College of Music and the New England Conservatory. Both are located in Boston, a town known for the then-hapless Red Sox.

So it is no surprise that Dave moved to the Big Apple in 1984 to study at New York University, where he could be close to both the perennial champion Yankees and the Mets (who, not coincidentally, defeated the Red Sox for the World Series title in 1986). Whether Dave gives a damn about baseball is unknown, but I do and this is my column so just deal with it. It was in New York that Dave came to the attention of the legendary Horace Silver. He would tour Europe with Silver in 1987, since there wasn't much happening in NYC that year. The freaking Minnesota Twins won the World Series in '87, for crissakes. The miserable Redskins won the Super Bowl. Who wouldn't want to be touring Europe with that sort of thing going on here at home?

But I digress.

Once returned to the grand old US of A, Dave proceeded to perform in the Masada Quartet with John Zorn and, I presume, two other guys. The quartet blended Jewish klezmer music with the works of Ornette Coleman and the sandwiches of Katz's Deli on East Houston St. This quartet was considered one of Zorn's best ensembles, because have you had the pastrami at Katz's? I'd drive non-stop from my home in Roanoke, Virginia, to the lower East Side (of what?) to get a sandwich. And, of course, I'd listen to Dave Douglas the whole way. I wouldn't want you to think I'm taking this profile gig lightly.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us 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

Album Reviews
Radio
Genius Guide to Jazz
Radio
In Pictures
Live Reviews
Catching Up With
Album Reviews
Genius Guide to Jazz
Live Reviews
Interviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Devotion

Devotion

Greenleaf Music
2019

buy
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

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Jul23Tue
Dave Douglas
Vortex Jazz Club
London, UK
Jul26Fri
Dave Douglas
Festival Marseille Jazz Des Cinq Continents
Marseille, France
Jul27Sat
Dave Douglas
San Sebastian Jazz Festival
San Sebastian, Spain

Related Articles

Read Anniversary Genius Guide to Jazz
Anniversary
By Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius
June 10, 2019
Read Call Me the Breeze: Dave Douglas and Donny McCaslin Play Lynyrd Skynyrd Genius Guide to Jazz
Call Me the Breeze: Dave Douglas and Donny McCaslin Play Lynyrd Skynyrd
By Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius
April 1, 2019
Read My Guitar Genius Guide to Jazz
My Guitar
By Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius
January 2, 2019
Read Jazz in 1's and 0's Genius Guide to Jazz
Jazz in 1's and 0's
By Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius
December 30, 2018
Read 2018 Gift Guide Genius Guide to Jazz
2018 Gift Guide
By Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius
November 23, 2018
Read Top 10 Moments in Jazz History Genius Guide to Jazz
Top 10 Moments in Jazz History
By Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius
November 12, 2018
Read Rising Stars: Wondrous Woman Genius Guide to Jazz
Rising Stars: Wondrous Woman
By Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius
September 18, 2018