Dave Douglas Quintet, Time Travel

Steve Holtje

By Steve Holtje

on 04.17.13 in Reviews
Contemplative modal tunes with elliptical, elusive melodic twists

The seven tracks here come from the same April 2012 session as last year’s Be Still, with the same then-new band: tenor saxophonist Jon Irabagon, pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Rudy Royston (minus the guest vocalist on Be Still). Unsurprisingly, sometimes the mood and style are similar to that collection: contemplative modal tunes with the sort of elliptical, elusive melodic twists heard in classic Wayne Shorter material, but within a 21st-century milieu wherein gears are switched more often. However, there are a lot more swinging, upbeat compositions: the giddily whimsical “Beware of Doug,” on which Royston’s chops are unleashed with a brief but dazzling solo; “Little Feet” with its wildly off-kilter rhythms; the rocketing “Garden State,” where the band’s ability to coordinate lines shooting off in multiple directions and skewed times is mightily impressive, sounding spontaneous even if much of it probably required advance coordination. It would be fascinating to learn in what order the session’s compositions were laid down: in spite of being recorded at the same time as Be Still, Time Travel seems like a maturation, or an evolution, thanks to its greater diversity.