The first of the Greenleaf Portable Series is Rare Metals with Brass Ecstasy, a brass quartet with drum set featuring Vincent Chancey on french horn, Luis Bonilla on trombone, Marcus Rojas on tuba, and Nasheet Waits on drums. This group honors parade brass band music, but Douglas brings in plenty of his own sounds as both a player and composer. The Douglas composition “Thread” begins with a squirming unison line played fast and loose, the musicians then chasing each other through randomized, rapid-fire bits of melodic material until they all arrive together at the end. Douglas’ arrangement of the Billy Strayhorn classic “Lush Life” is an understated gem as well.
Volume 2 of the series is Orange Afternoons with a traditional jazz quintet featuring Ravi Coltrane on Tenor Saxophone, Vijay Iyer on piano, Linda Oh on bass, and Marcus Gilmore on drums. The short video of the session on the Greenleaf website shows the band playing through the melody of the Douglas composition “Orologi” in a one-room studio with hanging blankets separating the bass and piano from the louder horns and drums. The session looks the way it sounds: relaxed and intimate, like a jam session in someone’s living room. Fortunately for the listener, this is a jam session with all the polish that you expect from these players, but with the spontaneous feeling that comes from a band still getting acquainted with each other.
Volume three of the series is Bad Mango featuring Douglas along with the new music ensemble So Percussion. Douglas plays with a broader range of timbres than most trumpeters, making this band as natural a foil to the bandleader as it is unconventional. New and old compositions appear together here, with So Percussion’s Eric Beach, Adam Sliwinski, Jason Treuting, and Josh Quillen splitting up duties among a huge array of percussion instruments, synthesizers, and toys to create a texture that varies in complexity, and never leaves one missing the traditional rhythm section. Douglas’ “Witness,” the title composition from his 2001 album of the same name, features a droning synthesizer and raucous drums, providing a mysterious backdrop for Douglas’ equally enigmatic improvisations.
These three recordings are all high quality, surprisingly different, equally memorable. The extra material available with the purchase of the album, including videos, art and lots of photos with the hard copy, make this a worthwhile collection for any adventurous jazz fan.
- Rare Metals: June 21st, 2011
- Orange Afternoons: August 3rd, 2011
- Bad Mango: October 11th, 2011