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Dave Douglas
THE INFINITE
(BLUE NOTE)

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It would be unfair to compare trumpeter/composer Dave Douglasís latest with the proto-electric Miles Davis of the mid í60s if Douglas himself hadnít cited Davis as a key influence for The Infinite. And the signifiers abound: the outta-space Fender Rhodes electric piano, the shifting funk rhythms, the modal figures, the loose, overlapping unison horn lines. Thereís even an extended quote from earlier Miles ó Birth of the Coolís "Boplicity" ó in Douglasís "Penelope."

But Douglas isnít covering Milesís all-over funk here ó rather, heís streamlining his own usually detailed writing in favor of pure, arching melodies. Not that the details arenít there in the use of saxophonist Chris Potterís bass clarinet for choral harmonies, or the sectional, narrative development of each piece. Rufus Wainwrightís "Poses" and Björkís "Unison" get loving treatment. And Douglas selects Mary J. Bligeís "Crazy Games" in order to exploit its long, breathless opening line. If the CD lacks the coiled intensity of, say, Milesís Filles de Kilimanjaro, or even the set by Douglasís "Witness" quintet at the ICA a couple of months back, it almost makes up for that in dynamic range and lyric intensity. "Penelope" and "Waverly" are mini-concertos, the latter opening with a ballad tempo that gives way to a loose waltz that in turn builds to a particularly ardent Douglas solo, all gleaming up-and-down arpeggios and dramatic drops to the lower register. And those pop tunes sure are pretty.

The Dave Douglas New Quintet, with Rick Margitza, Uri Caine, James Genus, and Clarence Penn, plays the Regattabar next Wednesday and Thursday, May 1 and 2; call (617) 876-7777.

BY JON GARELICK

Issue Date: April 25 - May 2, 2002
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