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Dave Douglas
FREAK IN
(RCA)

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Whereas last yearís The Infinite (RCA) could have been a homage to Miles Davisís Filles de Kilimanjaro, on Freak In, Dave Douglas updates the sputtering tablas, over-amped electric guitar, and squawking chatter of Live-Evil and On the Corner with drum íní bass beats and modern studio digital voodoo. In fact, "Black Rock Park" could be a direct cop of the start-stop guitar funk on Live-Evilís "Gemini/Double Image."

Unlike Milesís most immediate fusion followers, though, Douglas doesnít reduce the Masterís inventions to pop platitudes. Like Miles, Douglas is expansive and, finally, his own man. In short order, the title track shifts from free-time intro to a hard backbeat with trumpet solo, then a double-time d&b transition, then back to hard funk for a soaring 16-bar theme, solos, a secondary theme, a break for free-sustained wails from guitarist Marc Ribot, some glitch-and-keyboard and tape effects, a pitch-and-yaw guitar solo, and Seamus Blake eating up eighth notes over a fast walking bass. And so on ó itís Miles arranged and edited Douglas style.

Which doesnít mean that the music is endlessly frantic. Douglas says he laid down the rhythm-section and trumpet parts live; this gives the album an organic core thatís complemented by his compositional use of the control board and the very "jazz" statements by the saxophones of Blake and Chris Speed and Douglasís own trumpet. Thereís even a lilting ballad-tempo piece in three with acoustic guitar. This time out, Douglas gets it all ó cool sonics, jazz improv, tricky structures, and melodic hooks.

BY JON GARELICK

Issue Date: March 13 - 20, 2003
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