DownBeat and Dave Douglas

Dave Douglas: High Risk

DownBeat posted a short interview with trumpeter Dave Douglas (@dave_douglas) last week where he talks about a number of things including his most recent releases, Brazen Heart and the controversial (musically speaking), High Risk. The nature of the “controversy” surrounding High Risk stems, in part, from a two-star review DownBeat gave the album. As Dave points out in a letter sent last week to Greenleaf Music news subscribers (Greenleaf Music is Dave’s independent label):

“There's been some controversy about High Risk from our friends over at DownBeat. First a scathing two star review, then a rave review of the Montreal Jazz Fest, then a published letter backing up the original bad review. In the interest of "teaching the controversy" there's now an on line Q & A with some questions about the project.”

Here is the link to the aforementioned Q & A. One of my favorite responses was this one:

DownBeat: Working with electronics is nothing new for you—you’ve done it at least as far back as Sanctuary (1997), and it was a key component of your Keystone band. But it still seems to be controversial.

Dave Douglas: DownBeat clearly hated this record [High Risk] and published a letter supporting their review. The reviewer said as much as “I’m not interested in this music and I’m not interested in learning about it,” which to me seems scandalous.

Leaving that alone, I feel like when there’s electronic instruments everybody gets freaked out, and it’s either the newest thing happening in the music or “I hate it, how dare they.”

It seems to polarize listeners in a way that I don’t really understand, because for us musicians, this is just another instrument. It’s like if I wrote for steel drums or ocarina or a string quartet—Shigeto has the instincts of an improvising musician, and what he brings to the table is this sonic palette that’s unique to the sound world of improvised music.

If you want to hear High Risk for yourself, in action at the Montreal Jazz Festival, there is a terrific video here.