Little Giant Still Life

With The Westerlies & Anwar Marshall
Twelve brand new Dave Douglas compositions and arrangements for five brass players and drums.

Little Giant Still Life is an exciting new meeting between the acclaimed emerging talents of The Westerlies – known recently for their work with Fleet Foxes, their repertoire of original compositions, and interpretations of the music of Wayne Horvitz, Duke Ellington and others – and the young Philadelphia-based drummer Anwar Marshall (Fresh Cut Orchestra, Kurt Rosenwinkel), all under the compositional vision of trumpeter-composer Dave Douglas. The music contained herein is grooving, swinging, lyrical, and something distinct in Douglas’ 50+ recordings as a leader of original music, and as director of the Greenleaf Music record label, which he founded in 2005.

Much of the music on Little Giant Still Life was inspired by the American painter Stuart Davis, and the music explodes with the same bright colors and excitement that characterize much of Davis’ work. Elaborating on the influence, Douglas notes, “I like the explosive nature of Davis’ work — bright colors, big shapes, images bouncing off each other. Also, the fact that jazz inspired so much of his work was meaningful for me. The song ‘Swing Landscape’ is a good example of Davis refracting what he is hearing in the music for visual use. It’s only natural for musicians to see the work and refract right back!”

While Davis’ mark is felt strongly throughout the album, Douglas’ fledgling relationship with his collaborators are of equal importance. Douglas met The Westerlies – trumpeters Riley Mulherkar and Zubin Hensler and trombonists Willem de Koch and Andy Clausen – at a Chamber Music America event. The five first played together when The Westerlies opened for Douglas’ quintet at Seattle’s Earshot Jazz Festival. The band sat in on the tune “Barbara Allen” (an old spiritual) and realized that a more serious collaboration was bound to happen. Mulherkar reflects: “Dave started writing tune after tune for us and him to play together, and when we finally got together again everything came together pretty quickly.”

With the addition of Marshall, the ensemble was complete. Douglas notes, “The Westerlies are dream players for a composer. They really get inside the music and internalize it. They are also great ensemble improvisers — that is, their tendency is to solo all together, rather than one by one. I love that about them.” Referring to the drummer, Douglas says, “Anwar has a deep groove and real feel for the big landscape of the music; he understands peaks and valleys, and plays with superb empathy. It has made him the perfect player for this project.”
All members of The Westerlies grew up enthralled by Douglas’ sonic universe. Mulherkar and Hensler are first-rate trumpeters, especially when blending their sounds with Douglas’. Mulherkar, speaking for the group, says: “Working with Dave is a dream come true. He has been an influence on each of us individually and as an ensemble – I remember listening to his records growing up, transcribing his solos, and seeing him whenever he’d come through Seattle; he was (and is) a trumpet hero of mine.”


Dave Douglas, trumpet

The Westerlies:
Riley Mulherkar, trumpet
Zubin Hensler, trumpet
Andy Clausen, trombone
Willem de Koch, trombone

Anwar Marshall, drums

Production Credits:
Executive Producer: Dave Douglas
Recorded on December 6, 2016 at the Hotel Samurai Recording Studio
Engineered by Geoff Countryman
Mixed and mastered Tyler McDiarmid
Cover photo by Austin Nelson
Band photos by Russell Moore
Design by Lukas Frei