Recorded on 17, 18 March 1993 at Sear Sound, NYC.
Trumpeter Dave Douglas is attracting attention among fans and critics on the underground and avant-garde/free music trail. He shows what the hype is all about on this session with some surging solos, high-note explosiveness and impressive playing. But Douglas doesn't merely spew unconnected lines or flashy solos; his playing is a vital part of several originals that feature an intriguing violin/cello/bass backing section. The compositions range from loose, spacy tunes to animated, fierce ones. This isn't another hard bop outing or a completely free-wheeling session; instead, it's got elements of both, and a departure as well. It requires close scrutiny and a completely open mind, because Dave Douglas is following no direction except his own.
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
Parallel Worlds indeed! What Dave Douglas and his musicians have achieved here is the coming together in a superb symbiosis of several parallel and contiguous musical worlds - concepts, styles, if you will. These performances also bring together the "parallel worlds" of 'improvisation' and 'composition' in a new and beautifully integrated fashion, that at times even blurs the line between those two approaches to the point where the listener can't be quite sure which is which. To put it another way: all the subtle gradations between structured, fully written out composition and free, spontaneous improvisation - with 'structured improvisation' somewhere in the middle - are fully exploited. Again symbiosis!
Another continuum of which Douglas and his quintet are masters is their musical language itself, ranging from conventional tonality to the outer regions of atonality (and in some instances even microtonality). Douglas's atonality is, however, always aurally rooted in tonality: there is no break here between the one and the other; it is a floating continuum in which melody and harmony exist more in degrees of harmonic tension, of chromatic intensity, than in any opposites of 'dissonance' and 'consonance'. What some listeners may perceive as 'dissonant' is merely the outer extensions of tonality, the outer stretching of consonance.
Douglas's world of music is a rich one. It comprises and needs to be commented on. Techniques involved in the compositions and arrangements are not important; the instrumentation is also secondary. The "cover tunes" on this recording are there because they represent some of the finest music composed in this century, and for no other reason. There are certain things I could say with regard to my own pieces - they would likely be far less interesting than listening to them .
- Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas studied music for one year each at Berklee School of Music and New England Conservatory before graduating from N.Y.U's Gallatin Division in 1986. In 1987 he toured the United States and Europe with the Horace Silver Sextet and went on to tour and record with altoist Vincent Herring who had been his front-line mate in Silver's band. Since then, he has been involved in a broad array of projects including work with Don Byron's Klezmer group, Tim Berne, John Zorn; Myra Melford, Michael Formanek and others. In addition to leading his own group, he has since 1990 co-led the group New and Used along with Kermit Driscoll, Mark Feldman, Andy Lester, and Tom Rainey. Douglas has recieved support from the National Endowment for the Arts and Meet the Composer.
Kenton and his men tried (and more or less succeeded in) banishing from jazz. And Douglas doesn't just have one vibrato - the pasted-on kind - but many vibratos, a range of them, adding variety and warmth and refinement to his playing.
I think this is an important, even prophetic record. It breaks new ground; it pushes into new frontiers, discovering new territory. At the same time it expands on that earlier concept of "Third Stream" (now called "World Music" by the record companies!), bringing different - and parallel - worlds of music together in a new social/artistic union.
- Gunther Schuller
This recording expresses the myriad of feelings and experiences I have had through music in its many manifestations. It is an attempt to give a singular voice to all the simultaneous and contradictory realities that go into our existence. The parallel worlds of the title also refer to the disparate conditions of peoples' lives in this country: from politicians and corporate leaders to the seemingly invisible millions of disenfranchised and underutilized poor. That such disparities exist in so rich a country is certainly an anomaly that ranges from Miles, Monk and Ornette through Frisell, Shorter and Trane to Stravinsky, Bartok, Webern, Berg, Lutoslawski, and Ligeti (among others). He has heard - and heard very well - and loved and absorbed these many parallel phenomena, so that in his playing (and composing) these inspirations blend into a new alloy that is very much his own, that creates a highly personal musical profile.
If I suggest that Douglas's music reminds me - sometimes closely, sometimes only vaguely - of musicians/composers as disparate as Don Ellis or Bob Grattinger or Leo Smith, it is not to suggest that he was specifically influenced or inspired by them, let alone that he is imitating them. (I happen to know that Douglas has never even heard of Graettinger, let alone his music.) It is merely to suggest that the kind of music he is creating belongs to an already venerable lineage, starting with Red Norvo's 1933 Dance of the Octopus (the first known attempt at atonality in jazz) and continuing through many of Mingus's and Don Ellis's early works, Tristano's quasi-atonal 1946 Trio recordings, Ellington's non-tonal Clothed Woman, George Handy's The Blooz, Ornette's Free Jazz, and many others - even my own Abstraction, for Ornette Coleman. It is also to suggest that certain ideas seem to be in the air at certain times, their seeds land in different places and grow in different but somewhat parallel lines, often unbeknownst to one another.
The pleasures and treasures of this CD are many. Each listener will, of course, find his own, but perhaps the reader will not mind if I point out some of the things that I find most interesting and challenging. I admire, for example, the way the initial collective improvisation in Sehrbewegt, based in part on material from Webern's piece, elides via the bass ostinato with the actual rendition of the Webern movement (with Douglas's trumpet sitting in for the second violin).
In Parallel Worlds I like the Webernesque textures - the early, less ascetic Webern, that is - fused with the flexibility, the spontaneity of jazz improvisation, and the way Douglas, when needed, blends sensitively with the string trio. In Progress is a piece that, being mostly improvised (although based on specific given ideas) is always in flux, always recast, therefore "in progress." Its many delights for me include Friedlander's authoritative opening cello statement; the wide-ranging jagged lines of the head (a type of line not unknown in earlier 'free jazz' and even in some of the more adventurous bebop); the way Douglas relates his harmon mute to the ponticello and sultasto of the strings (playing at the bridge and on the fingerboard respectively), that funny 5/4 "waltz" which develops into a glorious soaring line for unison trumpet and high cello.
Remains, by contrast, is more structured, more through-composed, although it, too, "goes out". I love its over-all, always fresh continuity and variety of textures, this achieved despite the restricted quintet instrumentation. In Piece for Strings, hear how the trumpet serves as a string instrument.
And who can resist Ellington's Loco Madi with its wonderful shuffle rhythm (to which Ellington became so addicted in his later years). Feldman's big violin 'solo' contributes trenchantly to the performance, like a latter-day Ray Nance.
Perhaps the most moving, the most poignantly expressive playing occurs on On Your Leaving. Listen to the entry of the 'horns' after the opening drum solo (handsomely played by Sarin). For Every Action is all about breaking up splitting up, Hear how the initial single note splits up - disintegrates - into microtones, or how, later, the melodic line breaks up rhythmically, with the instruments shadowing each other; and, of course, the fine solos: violin, trumpet, bass. To end with Stravinsky's Histoire du Soldat Chorale (with the extra bonus of bass improvisations at every one of the chorale's fermatas) was a brilliant idea: beautiful music that, with the Webern, serves as a frame around Douglas's own works.
I like also that this recording is not only about technical trumpet virtuosity. Douglas has plenty of technique to say anything he wants to say, but technique here is integrated into the deeper content of the music. And I like the fact that Douglas has resuscitated the vibrato - that lovely element that Stan