Trumpeter Dave Douglas has participated in so many styles of music that listing them all would be mesmerizing. Some of his best work has been performed in free style and hard bop jazz groups. Here, he charts a different path, albeit one that he has pursued successfully before, in a mellow, lovely vein. Douglas is the only horn, backed by Guy Klucevsek's eclectic accordion, Mark Feldman's gloriously sweet violin, and Greg Cohen's acoustic string bass. With some exceptions, the dynamics are generally low, the tempos slow, and the mood serene. There is almost a post-minimalism to it all, capped by the exquisite sound of Douglas' trumpet.
Barry Douglas’s decision in his Brahms series to mix and match pieces intuitively, rather than employing a strict sequence of genre or chronology, has given this series a pleasing personal slant, and Vol. 5 is no exception. Building the programme around three very different sets of variations, Douglas intersperses the more substantial works with palate-cleansing intermezzos, two little-known early Sarabandes – apparent fugitives from an unfinished Baroque-inspired suite or two – and one of Brahms’s not-so-jokey scherzos, the rugged Op. 4. Indeed, if you like your Brahms super-rugged, this CD will not disappoint. Douglas’s powerful tone and serious demeanour captures the composer’s uncompromising side; yet there’s a sense of flow that makes the intermezzos generous and warm without veering towards the emotionally indulgent. The Variations on a Hungarian Song and the Hungarian Dances are served on the bone with sour cream aplenty.
The irrepressible Dave Douglas delivers another installment in the life of the Tiny Bell Trio, which features his own inimitable trumpet style, but the rhythmic invention of Jim Black on drums, and Brad Shepik's emotionally vulnerable yet volatile guitar playing. Where previous Tiny Bell outings have focused on the possibilities for texture, dynamic, and atmospheric possibilities within a given compositional structure, Songs for Wandering Souls places its eye firmly on group execution this set of compositions – all but two of which are by Douglas, the others arranged by him especially for this of his many groups. The disc opens with "Sam Hill," a beautiful "song," where the lead "call" voice is carried by Douglas, but its "response" is in the lyrical flow of Shepik's string interplay.
This is Volume 4 in Barry Douglas’s monumental project to record the complete works for solo piano by Johannes Brahms. Each volume has been released to critical acclaim, the first one, in 2012, being seen by BBC Music as ‘a triumph of Brahmsian thought, with playing that gets right to the heart of the composer’. Once again, the album is presented as a stand-alone recital, prominently featuring the C major Sonata, which was Brahms’s first published work. The influence on Brahms of his early romantic predecessors Beethoven and Schubert is obvious here, not only in the virtuoso demands on the performer but also in the opening, which recalls both Beethoven’s ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata, Op. 106 and Schubert’s ‘Wanderer’ Fantasy.
This album is the penultimate in what BBC Music has described as a ‘triumph of Brahmsian thought’, namely the survey by Barry Douglas of the composer’s complete works for solo piano. Three years after the release of Volume 1, the winner of the 1986 Tchaikovsky Competition is now performing this repertoire in the finest international venues, such as the Wigmore Hall in July 2015 and Concertgebouw in 2016, when the series will come to a highly anticipated climax with the final volume. Taking a big step further in his career with this achievement, Barry Douglas is gaining a reputation of one of the few accomplished world-class piano virtuosi of the romantic repertoire.