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Radioville: Dave Douglas, “Bad Mango” (Greenleaf)

October 20, 2011

I’m happy to announce that I’m now reviewing jazz albums every Wednesday at various times on WDCB Public Radio DeKalb (90.9 FM). Here’s this week’s review of “Bad Mango,” the third volume in Dave Douglas’ admirable GPS (Greenleaf Portable Series).

Here’s the text of the review for the hearing impaired, and the radio resistant:

I’m Lloyd Sachs with a two-minute album review. There’s no rule that says a jazz artist has to record in all kinds of styles and settings to prove his greatness. Thelonious Monk didn’t stray much from his basic approach over three decades and we all know he was a genius.

Dave Douglas is such a great trumpeter, he could stick to his working postbop quintet and rank among the best jazz artists of his generation. But he has a hunger for all kinds of music – Eastern European folk, Miles Davis-inspired fusion, film music. He wouldn’t be happy staying in any one area or with any one band. That’s good news for us.

In the span of three months, Davis has released three very good, very different recordings by three very different bands. They’re not full-length CDs, but more casual, download-only affairs ranging from 35 to 50 minutes. Taken together, for only $5 each, they offer a lively tour of Douglas’ creative approach.

The newest effort, “Bad Mango,” features Douglas with So Percussion, a percussion quartet that feeds his love of the Art Ensemble of Chicago by giving him a toy chest full of sound-makers to play with. The songs, by turns playful and somber, feature drums and marimba, but also glockenspiel, metronomes, bells and whistles, and that old favorite, the musical saw.

Two of the songs are remakes: the lovely, stargazing “One Shot,” originally recorded by his Tiny Bell Trio, and “Witness,” a Middle Eastern tinged tribute to the late intellectual Edward Said. There are short textural experiments involving electronics and voices and also Douglas’ version of surf music on which he rides a wave of drumming.

“Bad Mango,” available from iTunes and Greenleaf, follows “Rare Metals,” by Douglas’ Brass Ecstacy, and “Orange Afternoons” by an all-star group including Ravi Coltrane and Vijay Iyer. Where will Douglas go next? Not knowing is part of the fun. With a final rating of A- for “Bad Mango,” I’m Lloyd Sachs with a two-minute review. Follow me on Twitter @sachsville, and link to my blog, jazzespress.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2011 9:24 PM

    Sounds great!

  2. Todd permalink
    December 31, 2011 8:01 PM

    Just a small correction. The second album in the GPS series is called Orange Afternoons, not Burnt Orange. Great review.

    • December 31, 2011 11:27 PM

      thanks, todd. i thought i had caught that mistake. maybe i did in the audio (hope so!) but not the printed review.
      have a great new year.

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