Trumpeter Douglas follows up the lush balladry of 'The Infinite' with some 21st...
Peter Marsh 2003
Dave Douglas' The Infinite was probably my favourite jazz album of last year (or any year come to that), so it was with a certain moistening of the earbuds that I slipped this latest effort in the CD player.
But there was a certain trepidation too; Mr Douglas is one of those musicians who never stays still for too long (it's that Downtown New York thing at work again; must be something in the water) so this was never likely to be Infinite part two, and it's a world away from the lush romanticism he explored there. Instead Freak In is a kaleidoscopic, powerful slice of electric jazz; the strange new worlds of Bitches Brew and On the Corner dragged into the 21st century.
Powered by samples, electronic percussion and the octopoidal drumming of Joey Baron (who can switch from impersonating depth charges tothe rustle of leaves in a single bar), it's a convincing mix of realtime playing and digital jiggery-pokery."Black Rock Park"is straight out of Live Evil; Marc Ribot (who's on superb form) tears through its abstract, stop-start funk with vicious bursts of post-Mclaughlin guitar action. Elsewhere snatches of drum 'n' bass crunch or furious postbop swing jostle for your attention.
The leader's trumpet excursions are predictably sweet, and his authority and emotional range shines even at high intensity levels. There are moments of quiet too; the stretched, oceanic drifts of "Maya" and "Porto Alegre" (with a considered, affectingtenor outing from Chris Speed) offer respite from the tensile, fiery pileups on show elsewhere.
While The Infinite left the listener (or this one anyway) in a state of bliss, Freak In's pleasures are edgier but no less potent. Dave gets his political message in too with quotes from Eduardo Galeano (chronicler of US imperialism in Latin America) and the direction "Put your headphones on and FREAK IN. Encourage world leaders to do the same". At the time of writing, that doesn't seem like a bad idea.