December 1999

Dave Douglas
Songs for Wandering Souls
Winter & Winter

The Tiny Bell Trio matches trumpeter Douglas with guitarist Brad Shepik and drummer Jim Black. Douglas has emerged as one of the more prolific-and omniverous-talents on today's scene; he writes for a broad range of settings, but none is so directly compelling as this. The three phrase as one; they match tone precisely. The richness of Shepik's guitar is like a scrim through which we see the flash and arc of Douglas' horn. Black is a full partner in the proceedings, playing through the same broad range of dynamics as his mates, indulging his repertoire of rhythms just as broadly. As a composer, Douglas gives his melodic instincts full play, sharing some of the same propensities as Ornette Coleman-then backing them with many a harmonic (as opposed to harmolodic) twist. The set includes Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Breath-a-thon," given a spirited reading that subsides to a lovely elegiac ending, and a Robert Schumann piece that packs its playfulness into the composed framework. Dave Douglas here burnishes his reputation-as did saxophonic legend Steve Lacy recently in the New York Times.

Originally published in December 1999
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