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CD Review: 'Spirit Moves' by Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy

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Friday, June 19, 2009

DAVE DOUGLAS & BRASS ECSTASY

"Spirit Moves"

Kindred spirits: Lester Bowie, Tom Harrell, Enrico Rava

Show: Monday at Blues Alley. Shows start at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. 202-337-4141. http://www.bluesalley.com.

"Spirit Moves" is largely inspired by Dave Douglas's appreciation for fellow trumpeter Lester Bowie's sweeping artistic vision. Bowie, who died in 1999, not only influenced Douglas's approach to playing, composing and arranging, he obviously taught Douglas a thing or two about defying boundaries. "In a way, he fought for the equality of all music," Douglas writes in the liner notes, "always with joyousness and good humor."

Those same traits are evident throughout "Spirit Moves," a witty mix of New Orleans swagger and Memphis soul, vintage refrains and contemporary pop.

While the ensemble's instrumentation (trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba and drums) lends itself to Crescent City sounds and Bowie's brand of "serious fun," Douglas casts his net wide. Besides fashioning tributes to trumpeters Fats Navarro and Enrico Rava, the Grammy-nominated trumpeter imaginatively rearranges Rufus Wainwright's "This Love Affair" and Otis Redding's "Mr. Pitiful" en route to the album's haunting coda, a soulful rendering of Hank Williams's "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."

Fans of Bowie's work with his Brass Fantasy ensemble will find plenty to enjoy here. And surely with a little exposure, Brass Ecstasy will find its own loyal following.

-- Mike Joyce


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