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Douglas/Sclavis/Lee/Van Der Schyff
BOW RIVER FALLS
(Premonition)

Itís not until a good 15 minutes or so into this album that you hear what could be called jazz swing: walking bass over brushes. It doesnít matter. This was one of the loveliest jazz releases of the summer. And it doesnít matter that that "bass" is the plucked cello of the Vancouver musician Peggy Lee. Here is the perfect combination of freedom and swing, the sputterings, scrapes, and squeaks of the avant-garde, as well as a bit of lap-top glitch, all creating an ambient backdrop for melodic lyricism and group empathy. Trumpeter Dave Douglas organized the band last summer at the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music in Alberta with Lee, clarinettist and bass-clarinettist Louis Sclavis, and Dylan van der Schyff on drums and that laptop.

Everyone contributes pieces, but Douglasís tend to be standouts. He brings in one of Steve Lacyís beautiful little up-and-down melodies, "Blinks," for some free blowing, and his own "Petals," with its insistent six-beat ostinato from Lee, sends Sclavis into one of his most inspired flights. Sclavisís minor-key "Fête Lorraine" shifts between an oom-pah-pah and a light 4/4 on the ride cymbal. Throughout, Sclavis and Douglas make wonderful dance partners, twining contrapuntal lines, setting high register against low, busy rhythmic action against long held tones. This isnít the blues-based swing of Mingus, but when bass clarinet meets trumpet, itís easy to hear echoes of the Mingus band with Eric Dolphy and Ted Curson. Maybe thatís not fair either ó Bow River Falls is what it is, beauty all its own.

BY JON GARELICK


Issue Date: September 10 - 16, 2004
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