a 1967 Martin Luther King, Jr. speech, Dave Douglas came across Dr. Kings
remarks that called Americans strange liberators as seen through
the eyes of the Vietnamese. Under a similar canopy of skewed perceptions of
Americans from abroad, Douglas explores his emotions that have been offset by
the policies, practices, and pursuits of the current administration.
To find this perturbing
sense of freedom, Douglas returns with an all-star supporting cast featuring
the bass work of James Genus, Clarence Penn on drums, the flexible Fender Rhodes
of Uri Caine, the standout sax playing of Chris Potter, and this time, weaving
in the added layer of Bill Frisell on guitar. Douglas says that tracks featuring
Frisell are written with him in mind. Bill forces us to play
different, says Douglas. He helps to blend the group while adding
Douglas Strange Liberation features a lot of freedom, but a freedom
much different than Free Jazz where group members simply play in
the moment. As an American, these melodies represent an ambiguous and
difficult time, says Douglas. At present, he is particularly uncomfortable
with Americas role around the world. This is not an album to comfort.
Rather, it requires one to sink into the hypnotic textures supplied by the rhythm
section and follow the stirring elocution of the horn players.
On Strange Liberation, there are crossroads that often lead to other
crossroads. With so much unpredictability, the album feels like a journey on
every listen. Skeeter-ism wants to strut into a medium-tempo swing,
but playfully reverts back to open blues wanderings. Seventeen is
reminiscent of Wayne Shorters Paraphernalia. Rock of
Billy is a rockin swing that serves as a wakeup call in the fashion
of Lee Morgans Sidewinder. It is no surprise that Douglas
names an eclectic company of influences including: Igor Stravinsky, John Coltrane,
Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Charles Mingus, and Bela Bartok.
This album joins the ethereal, the seductive, the thought provoking, the ill
at ease, and the wholesome in a pocket of solar exploration. There is a bubble
around every groove and Douglas has the solos burst through each one. Strange
Liberation flaunts a vat of musical ideas and energy.
Douglas also strangely liberates in the way his tunes conclude. No ending chord
leaves one settled. This group is bound by no formula. Their complex forms often
sound as esoteric as the albums concept. While Strange Liberation
is not the most easily accessible Jazz in town, it harnesses some chic tangential
playing with unrelenting drive provided by Genus and Penn.
Dave Douglas uneasy awareness of the times is reflected in his musical
expression. Strange Liberation depends on a ringing, sustained,
fatter sound, says Douglas. In playing beyond the obvious, Douglas
Picasso-like pastorals and daring downbeats are sure to find you freed in an