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

Live Review: Dave Douglas Presents “Dizzy Atmosphere” at JALC

Trumpeter leads unique tribute to the music of Dizzy Gillespie, with help from special guests

Dave Douglas performing tribute to Dizzy Gillespie with Ambrose Akinmusire and Bill Frisell at Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center (photo by Lawrence Sumulong)
Ambrose Akinmusire and Bill Frisell performing tribute to Dizzy Gillespie with Dave Douglas at Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center (photo by Lawrence Sumulong)
Gerald Clayton performing tribute to Dizzy Gillespie with (l. to r.) Dave Douglas, Bill Frisell and Ambrose Akinmusire at Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center (photo by Lawrence Sumulong)
Gerald Clayton performing tribute to Dizzy Gillespie with (l. to r.) Dave Douglas, Bill Frisell and Ambrose Akinmusire at Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center (photo by Lawrence Sumulong)
Linda May Han Oh and Joey Baron performing tribute to Dizzy Gillespie led by Dave Douglas at Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center (photo by Lawrence Sumulong)
Joey Baron performing tribute to Dizzy Gillespie led by Dave Douglas at Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center (photo by Lawrence Sumulong)
Joey Baron performing tribute to Dizzy Gillespie led by Dave Douglas at Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center (photo by Lawrence Sumulong)

For Dave Douglas, the art of the tribute has never been about the act of strict repertory theatre. In saluting undersung trumpeter Booker Little, honoring trailblazing pianist-composer Mary Lou Williams, nodding toward Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy (with his own Brass Ecstasy) and highlighting the importance of any number of horn heavies through his role as President and Co-Founder of the Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT), Douglas has made it clear that he prefers cambered roads to straight highways. Deep respect and strong historical foundations support each and every one of his dedicatory designs, but innovation and a penchant for rebuilding from the cellular level on up typically inform such projects to an equal if not greater extent. That’s easy to hear on recordings recognizing the aforementioned figures, and it was plainly obvious in the unveiling of Dizzy Atmosphere.

Programmed as part of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s centennial celebration of Dizzy Gillespie, this event found Douglas taking a sui generis collection of creative leading lights through a performance that proved revelatory in its modernizing strengths and resourceful in its refashioning of the titular figure’s canonical works. Adopting Wayne Shorter’s “Zero Gravity” mantra, both as part of the concert’s subtitle and as an overarching conceit, the sextet beamed in emissions from the great beyond which eventually coalesced in collective stabilization. At the show’s dawn, drummer Joey Baron’s coloristic contributions arrived with the meeting and meanderings of thin dowels, guitarist Bill Frisell added to the cosmic trip with looping blips, and various thrums and refractions tangled in the mists before Douglas and his frontline partner, fellow trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, set the intriguing “Almazan” on its clear course. The painterly poetics of the two trumpeters belied the wild horn sprees to come, Baron’s eventual addition of a streamlined groove and artfully caustic rejoinders upped the ante, and conversational episodes and solos—Frisell mingling with pianist Gerald Clayton, Frisell and bassist Linda May Han Oh each moving to the fore at separate times—seduced before the ensemble circled back around.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published