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Dave Douglas: A Thousand Evenings

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Dave Douglas’ second major label release is a bold stroke on a few significant counts. A Thousand Evenings, his second outing with Charms of the Night Sky, is not an overt jazz album like his RCA debut, Soul on Soul, Douglas’ homage to Mary Lou Williams. Nor does this album have the marketing synergy its predecessor had with the concurrent publication of Linda Dahl’s acclaimed Williams biography. Its fall release also assures a crowded field of recordings in which the album must stand out to sustain the charmed trumpeter’s Big Mo in the media.

Additionally, Charms of the Night Sky is arguably Douglas’ most challenging ensemble. Though Douglas created an alluring blend with violinist Mark Feldman, accordionist Guy Klucevsek and bassist Greg Cohen on their eponymous 1998 Winter & Winter debut, the program was laden with an almost purgative melancholic lyricism, which was only occasionally abated by Eastern European dances and envelope-nudging contours. While a few tracks were prime fodder for NPR segues, the album was too shadow-shrouded to be a pristine soundtrack for a Sunday of lattes and crossword puzzles.

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