In a press release, Dave Douglas lays out the reasoning behind the title of this second Sound Prints album, Scandal. “We’re not playing by the traditional, or school-taught, rules of jazz,” the trumpeter-composer writes. It is scandalous, he explains further, in today’s ever-more-unpredictable climate, “to question everything about the assumptions made in improvisation,” an activity that “has become all too rare and risky.”
There are times during the 11-track recording—which follows the quintet’s live debut of 2015—when Douglas, saxophonist-composer Joe Lovano, pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Joey Baron certainly do flirt with the accepted notions of consistency, conformity and conventionality. Free, open-ended investigations sit side by side with the more straight-ahead; the players stubbornly insist on tossing expectations out the window. Whether that goes so far as being scandalous is questionable, but it sure does make for exciting, often thrilling jazz.