Monday, July 19, 2010

Dave Douglas: Spark Of Being

Dave Douglas (trumpet; b. 1963)
Spark Of Being (Greenleaf Music)

Marcus Strickland (sax)
DJ Olive (turntables, electronics)
Adam Benjamin (fender rhodes)
Gene Lake (drums)
Brad Jones (bass)

Many people already know what a big fan I am of Dave Douglas. He has managed to shift between various styles and projects. Each album is different and highly compelling. Douglas has assembled a variety of groups to showcase his prolific and complex themes. His most recent and critically acclaimed group is the sextet Keystone which has a recorded a series of albums since its 2005 debut simply entitled Keystone (Greenleaf Music).

Keystone is a more electronic outfit for Douglas' sometimes more forward-thinking, tripped out explorations. Dave Douglas and Keystone of recorded music for slightly art-house film projects like Fatty Arbuckle and their newest project Spark Of Being (Greenleaf). Spark Of Being is a three part project based around the a the 100 anniversary of the original Frankenstein film. This new celebratory project is a combination of work by Douglas and film maker Bill Morrison. The project includes 3 albums, the first of which is Spark of Being: Soundtrack.

Spark Of Being: Soundtrack is literally that, the soundtrack to the film. But before you think of this as just "soundtrack" music, think again. This is well crafted atmospherics and jazz improvisation led by Douglas on trumpet and electronics as well as longtime collaborator DJ Olive on turntables and electronics. The Keystone rhythm section is superb as always. Highlights for me include the swirling "Observer," "Travelouge," and "Tree Ring Circus", all of which display a Miles Davis Live Evil era experimentalism in the way Douglas melds rock, jazz and avant garde motifs throughout the proceedings.

There are times in which you will truly forget this is a soundtrack to a film. I guess once you see the visual and audio together it will make more sense. But the great thing about Spark of Being is that this soundtrack really does stand alone as another excellent piece of work from Dave Douglas. This is great futuristic stuff from Douglas and I'm totally blown away again by his ability to take divergent ideas and crave them into his own. The second and third installments of this project are scheduled for August and September. Well worth checking out.

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