Dave Douglas - Uri Caine - Andrew Cyrille

Devotion
Greenleaf Music GRE CD-1071

Distinguished musical artists saluting other eminent artists would be the easiest method of describing proceedings on Devotion. Less decorously, the disc is actually 10 intricate compositions by trumpeter Dave Douglas performed in an unhurried but swinging fashion by three of the most serious and forward-looking contemporary Jazz musicians, Douglas himself, pianist Uri Caine and authoritative percussionist Andrew Cyrille.

The three, who have been associated with visionary stylists ranging from Cecil Taylor to John Zorn, and whose performances have encompassed interpretation of Sacred Harp, so-called classical and Haitian sound as well as exploratory Free Music, seem perfectly attuned as to how best to deal with tunes, which salute figures as expected as pianist Mary Lou Williams (“Rose and Thorn”) to Jerome Horwitz (“Curly”). That Jerome Horwitz is Douglas’ favorite of the Three Stooges.

Overall though, the most accomplished playing on the disc occurs on “Miljøsang” and “False Allegiances”, both dedicated to composer Carla Bley. A mix of freedom and fun, the first mixes a slapping drum backbeat, pliant brass tones from the trumpeter and stretched intensity from the pianist resulting in a narrative of sliding spryness. “False Allegiances” on the other hand adds a Spanish tinge to a movie soundtrack-like theme, expressed passionately by Caine’s high-pitched rubato runs and Douglas’ limber slurs.

Although other tunes have their origin to the solution to compositional challenges, none has the feeling or sound of academic exercises. “Rose and Thorn” gives Cyrille an apt showcase for cowbell and Mylar pops with Caine’s keyboard creating a pastiche of Ragtime-like echoes with up-to-the moment high-pitched pattering. “Francis of Anthony”, named for pianist Franco D’Andrea may be the most dramatically colored, with Caine’s fills creating a light groove; Cyrille’s rim shots and slaps defining swing: and Douglas’ Jazz shakes and muted funkiness propelling dancing harmonies that lock in with the others expositions. Later “We Pray”, dedicated to Dizzy Gillespie, finds Caine tinkling out slippery chords and Douglas’ elongated trills, and is both earnest and eloquent. Taking this heartfelt tribute as a guide and the CD as an example, the three are now in a similar class to Gillespie: able to handle a multiplicity of material and invest it with the same spirit of improvised sophistication.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Curly 2. D’Andrea 3. Francis of Anthony 4. Miljøsang 5. False Allegiances 6. Prefontaine 7. Pacific 8. Rose and Thorn 9. We Pray 10. Devotion

Personnel: Dave Douglas (trumpet): Uri Caine (piano) and Andrew Cyrille (drums and percussion)