Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Dave Douglas: High Risk

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

There is a resonance of Miles Davis on “Molten Sunset,” the lead song from High Risk by trumpeter Dave Douglas. The tone is brawny but bruised and forlorn. The attendant musicians beneath the clarion horn are in a cavernous mesh, a Miles touchstone from Sketches of Spain to Bitches Brew and beyond. But this “Molten” mix is a heavy staccato stew that sounds brand new. The iconic magic of that signature trumpet sound engages a more contemporary cutting-edge context.

True to its title, High Risk is Douglas’ most daring foray into electronic-oriented music. His Keystone sextet had DJ Olive, but its undeniable electronic bent was leavened by the presence of saxophonist Marcus Strickland beside Douglas on the frontline, and by drummer Gene Lake, who plays both free and straight-ahead, but with a jazz sensibility. High Risk features the rock-infused propulsion of Mark Guiliana on acoustic and electric drums, and Jonathan Maron, the electric and synth bassist from Groove Collective, along with the Detroit DJ Shigeto on “electronics.” Douglas is the lone horn player.

Figuratively and literally, Douglas has a blast. His three bandmates tear into his seven originals with harsh beats and innovative textural adornments both crisp and wafting, a sonic template that provides him the choice to either spar or soar, and both strategies generate ideal showcases for his often-underappreciated brass chops. Some songs are more pointillistic (“Household Item,” “Tied Together”), while others create a flow (“Etiquette,” “Cardinals”) or sweeping arc (“High Risk”). But the constant is a palpable feeling of self-discovery; musicians from different genres melding and welding an industrial-strength union that yielded 41 minutes of mostly transcendent music in a single session.

Originally Published