The trumpeter's new album, "Secular Psalms", is a 10-song program inspired by "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb", painted between 1420-1432 and hung in Sgt. Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium. Douglas initiated the project before the pandemic shut down the world, choosing a band (six members in all) from Europe and the United States; artists include Berlinde Deman (tuba, serpent, voice), Marta Warelis (piano, prepared piano, pump organ), Frederik Leroux (guitars, lute, electronics), Lander Gyselinck (drums, electronics), Tomeka Reid (cello), and the leader on trumpet and background vocals. The blend of tuba or serpent (a wooden brass instrument!) with amplified guitar, cello, trumpet, the various keyboards, and voice is fascinating. While the music is inspired by 14th Century composers, there is a 21st Century "avant-garde" as well as 1960s-70s "prog-rock" feel (if there was a flute, this music could easily be linked to Jethro Tull (check out "Agnus Dei" and see if you agree).
|Photo: Gemma Vander Hayden|
|Photo: Johan Jacobs|
"Secular Psalms" is a stunning album, all the more so because all the parts were recorded remotely at different times, then edited and remixed by Tyler McDermid and Dave Douglas. The album stands out in the trumpeter's oeuvre not only because it's an amazing collection of music and performances but also because like 2012's "Be Still" and 2015's all-instrumental "Fabliaux", the songs, messages, and instrumental experimentation gives the listener deep insight into the trumpeter's inner life. Listen and be moved!
For more information, go to https://greenleafmusic.com/out-now-secular-psalms/. To hear more and to purchase the album, go to https://davedouglas.bandcamp.com/album/secular-psalms.
Listen to "We Believe":
|Photo: Monika Jakubowska|
In 2016, the saxophonist created MY IRIS, a quartet that features two members of her Quintet, guitarist Chris Montague and drummer James Maddren, plus pianist/ organist Ross Stanley. The bass-less ensemble's self-titled album was issued on Basho in early 2017 followed two years later by "90 Degrees Gravity" (also on Basho). The quartet was hoping to record in April of 2020 but the pandemic put that project on hold. Ms. Clowes did self-release "MY IRIS Live!", a digital-only album through Bandcamp in 2020, a "low-fi" six-track set from an October 2019 live date.
Amber Bauer, CEO of Donate4Refugees, a London-based charity that Ms. Clowes works as an ambassador––if the charity's head is an energetic as this music, she'll do well. The rhythm and main melody suggests Steely Dan (circa "Aja") and the band makes the most of the r'n'b swing of the piece. Guitarist Montague stands out on "Time", his Country-ish riffs reminiscent of Bill Frisell while there's a touch of Bruce Hornsby in Stanley's spot. The lovely ballad "Morning Song" is muted like the hour before daybreak, the handsome melody opening to a classically-inspired piano solo. The short yet hushed tenor solo makes way for a powerful guitar statement and the set of fascinating chord changes before the close.
Trish Clowes may be a new name to US audiences but do check out her music and, especially her work with MY IRIS. "A View With a Room" feels like a musical balm, creating a sense of joy in the midst of complicated and often dangerous world––do spend time soaking in these sounds!
For more information, go to trishclowes.com/. To hear more and to purchase the album, go to https://trishclowes-glm.bandcamp.com/album/a-view-with-a-room.
Here's the afore-mentioned "Amber":
I first became aware of Australian-born saxophonist Angela Davis back in 2013. At that time, she was studying for her Masters of Music at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. That was also the year Ms. Davis self-released her debut album, "The Art of the Melody". Two years later, her second album, "Lady Luck", featured the saxophonist alongside pianist Dan Tepfer, bassist Linda May Han Oh (who was also on the debut album, drummer Richie Barshay, and a string quartet. Ms. Davis moved back home, to Melbourne, where she serves as a lecturer at both University of Melbourne and Monash University. She's married to trumpeter Mat Jodrell and they have a son, Max. Since returning home, she's released one album, "Little Did They Know", for ABC Jazz, the label of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"Suite for Max" won't shake your world but that's not its purpose. The music that Angela Davis composed for this project is the result of her watching her son begin to move, begin to claim his own space in the world, all the while wide-eyed at wonders all around. Ms. Davis rarely plays on the fiery side; instead, she gravitates towards the melodic side of music. Listen to this music at the break of dawn or at the close of the day; it's such pleasant company!
For more information, go to https://angeladavismusic.com/.
Here is "Movement #2" from "Suite for Max":