Release date: September 2006
Originally available only as a download from the artist's own site, "Meaning and Mystery" continues Dave Douglas' intense and impressive creative run. It follows 2003's "Strange Liberation", soon to be featured as one of the 100 Greatest Jazz albums on this site. Now, Chris Potter has moved on and there is no repeat of Bill Frissell's guesting on electric guitar. Down to a more basic quintet of Dave Douglas (trumpet); Donny McCaslin (tenor saxophone); Uri Caine (Fender Rhodes); James Genus (bass) and Clarence Penn (drums), it is essential that new sax player Donny McCaslin is an effective replacement for Chris Potter and he does not disappoint.
The references to Miles Davis' "In A Silent Way" are still manifest, not least in Dave Douglas' trumpet and Uri Caine's use of Fender Rhodes. But, as in "Strange Liberation", there is a strong sense that this is really just a jumping off point for a complex and rewarding exploration that is all their own.
As Dave Douglas states in the liner notes: "It should be obvious to anyone who has heard this quintet that I love Miles Davis, and when someone says I'm influenced by Miles Davis I'm flattered. But aren't we all influenced? Anyone involved in American music has to at some point deal with the language of jazz and who could be more central to the modern vision of the music? And as a jumping off point for new quintet music, what better place is there to start? There is room to grow from Davis' music because he created so many open roads........... But the message in my opinion was not to stop there, but to keep growing, exploring and changing the sound and the context."
Stand out tracks are "Culture Wars", "Painter's Way" and the beautiful slow blues, "Blues To Steve Lacy".
As with so much of what Dave Douglas is doing right now, this is highly recommended. Definitely more 'out' than "Strange Liberation" yet intriguing nonetheless.
Recordings of all twelve sets on six nights of this group's playing at New York's Jazz Standard (December 5 to 10, 2006) are available as MP3s for purchase on the artist's own site.
Music is taken not only from "Meaning and Mystery" and "Strange Liberation" but also from "The Infinite" (an earlier excellent album released in 2001) and newly created material from a recent tour of Europe, making essentially twelve new live albums.
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