By 2000 trumpeter Dave Douglas had etched himself as one of the most versatile, intriguing, and important players and composers on the scene. By leading several groups that successfully focus on particular styles, Douglas had been able to be not only one of the best but also one of the most recorded. A Thousand Evenings was his second album for BMG and his third release of that year. A Thousand Evenings features his Charms of the Night Sky group (also the name of the quartet's 1998 Winter & Winter label debut) with Mark Feldman on violin, Greg Cohen on bass, and the marvelous Guy Klucevsek playing accordion. As with the initial Charms of the Night Sky release, the set list is comprised of flowing chamber jazz pieces that lend themselves to a strange mix of tango, Eastern European folk, and klezmer, all in the framework of the New York downtown jazz scene. The title song is a beautiful engaging opening number that floats along with Douglas blowing right on top. Highlighting one of the most important factors of this group is Klucevsek's accordion playing: He adds a great deal to the density and also to the rhythm of this music. "Variety," a solo accordion piece, clearly demonstrates that fact. There's also an entertaining reworking of the James Bond theme "Goldfinger." A Thousand Evenings is an example of great musicians keeping their ideals straight in the oft-murky landscape of major-label contemporary jazz.
- Jack LV Isles (All Music Guide)
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"The reason everything looks so beautiful because it is out of balance, but its background is always in perfect harmony."
As much as we'd like to relive "Birth of the Cool," "Kind of Blue," "Filles de Kilimanjaro" or "Decoy," let's face it - it's futile. We're lucky to have those masterpieces to guide us, but their timelessness exists only in those recorded documents that allow us to revisit a vanished past. That's the beauty of improvised music and its curse: in order to be recreated, it has to have new hie breathed into it every time. It can never again exist in its original form. Ultimately it grows and changes, but it will never be the same as it once was. So with love and dedication, musicians build a new music on the remains of the old - sometimes in fits and starts, sometimes through gradual expansion and evolution. The only way to go is forward; yet there are as many forward directions as there are musicians. What this new music is called is, perhaps, not our choice. Names only attach themselves to established and codified artforms. But there will always be shades of the old music in everything we do - it has become frustratingly clear that there is no way to make sounds that do not refer to something, somewhere, that has been done before. Most musicians today laugh when asked "How much of that is improvised?" I think that what's funny to them is that the distinction between composition and improvisation is so blurred that the question itself points out the absurdity of trying to sort them out. When I give new music to any of my groups, it is understood that our improvisations should be elaborations stemming directly from the written music. The interpretation of a written passage should reflect a personal style and flexibility so that the notes are reborn in each reading. In other words, the written note is so colored by the performer, and the improvisation so colored by the composition that it"s impossible to say where one begins and the other ends. How much of Johnny Hodges's melodic interpretations are "notated", and how many of Charlie Parker's choruses on "Now's the Time" are "improvised'? Both are honed from years of experience and interaction.
How a composer uses the interactive language of improvisation has become one of the most compelling elements of contemporary music in any style. I'm talking about pioneers like Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Gil Evans, Jimmy Giuffre, Cecil Taylor, Julius Hemphill, Harry Partch, John Cage, Earl Brown, Mauricio Kagel, Luciano Berio, Terry Reilly, Pauline Oliveros, Henry Mancini, Brian Wilson and Stevie Wonder. Like so many others, they've found new ways to communicate ideas to their players, drawing the performer into the process, finding new connections between genres and a new compositional language.
The beauty of this time is that musicians are free to choose which elements they use from moment to moment, creating an infinite range of possibilities and variations. This recording is dedicated to the endlessly fascinating music of this world.
- Dave Douglas, 2000