Audiophile Audition Reviews High Risk


Doug Simpson of Audiophile Audition took a deep listen to High Risk and wrote this thoughtful review. Nice to see Steve Wall of Gardentone and Geoff Countryman get their due props here! Check out videos here and here and vinyl LP here.

Dave Douglas – High Risk [TrackList follows] – Greenleaf Music GRE-CD-1042, 40:57 [6/23/15] ****1/2:

(Dave Douglas – trumpet, producer; Jonathan Maron – electric and synth bass; Mark Guiliana – acoustic and electric drums; Shigeto – electronics)


If jazz fans want to keep abreast of the confluence of acoustic jazz and electronics (i.e., electro-acoustic jazz)—the creative nexus where brass, wood, sticks, ivory keys and other acoustic components balance against loops, beats and digital sound—then trumpeter Dave Douglas is one of the artists you should listen to. Douglas is a well-rounded composer, arranger, improviser and performer. One area he continues to find stimulating is the melding of jazz with electronic elements. He’s done some intriguing work related to this sphere on previous releases such as Spark of Being (2010), Moonshine (2008) and Freak In (2003). For his latest outing, the 40-minute High Risk, Douglas formed a new quartet with acoustic and electric drummer Mark Guiliana (Douglas and Guiliana first performed together on a project with saxophonist DonnyMcCaslin); electric and synth bassist Jonathan Maron (founding member of acid-jazz group Groove Collective) and Zachary Saginaw aka Shigeto (an electronic music producer). Maron and Douglas initially crossed paths in the ‘90s and Douglas met Shigeto in 2014 when they shared a stage at a multi-genre musical event. From those connections, High Risk was born. High Risk is not just the magic of four musicians in a studio. Recording engineer Geoff Countryman (who has done board work on other Douglas CDs) meticulously captured the acoustic and electronic portions (Douglas did four months of pre-production to prepare for the one-day session). And mixing engineer Steve Wall was an important contributor, since he did four months of detailed post-production. The result is live improvisation fused with integrated sound manipulation, effects, and other digital/audio realizations.

The seven tracks offer a spontaneous and layered interplay between trumpet, bass, drums and electronics. Everything is part of one expressive experience. The music outwardly modifies and changes, but there is an overall flow and continuity, despite fluctuating constituents. The opener, “Molten Sunset,” commences with Maron’s slowly pulsing bass, Guiliana’s shadowy percussion, and Douglas’ iridescent trumpet. Shigeto’s shimmering electronics traverse as a foundation, with ambient samples, organized sounds and improvised groove. The 7:32 piece has an attribute of mystery amid a fractured funk template. “Molten Sunset” is both edgy and carries a skewed calmness. (read more)