ENGAGE - 2019 Subscriber Series

Optimism. Action. Community.

Featuring twelve compositions by Dave Douglas with an ensemble featuring Anna Webber, Tomeka Reid, Jeff Parker, Nick Dunston and Kate Gentile,

Plus special guest trumpeters Dave Adewumi and Riley Mulherkar

Join us as a subscriber to gain access to this unique material and more.

Purchase a CD on Bandcamp here.

Dave Douglas has been feeling inspired. Inspired by his musical community. Inspired by the activism he sees around him. Inspired to take action for issues he feels strongly about. In his 2019 Subscriber Series project, ENGAGE, the trumpeter, composer, Greenleaf Music founder and community organizer sought to keep the momentum of the 2018 midterm elections going. Douglas, whose recorded oeuvre spans the last 30 years with over 50 recordings as a leader, recorded a program of brand new compositions as reactions and ruminations on the hope generated in 2018. Voters rejected of a politics of racism, fear-mongering, environmental deregulation and degradation and chaos. It was time to drown out the toxicity of the Trump presidency with beautiful music meant to engage all who cared to hear.

“We’re digging into that optimism musically in these pieces,” Douglas notes. “The compositional rule was simply to build all the songs out of major triads.” Each of the twelve pieces in this “song-cycle” approaches these triads in a different way. Douglas sought out specific improvisers and collaborators from different generations and backgrounds to deal with music that inspires, challenges and stirs to action. The songs were specifically built for this collaborative and dynamic ensemble including Anna Webber (alto and bass flutes, tenor sax), Tomeka Reid (cello), Jeff Parker (guitar), Nick Dunston (bass), and Kate Gentile (drums). On some of the pieces, the ensemble is joined by trumpeters Dave Adewumi and Riley Mulherkar.

As Douglas stated in the initial rollout of the project “ENGAGE is a direct descendant of UPLIFT, the 2018 set of compositions dedicated to positive action. We will be following up with all the organizations and causes invoked in that piece and engaged in community and activism. People showed up in 2018, and our hope is that this trend will continue. My hope is that everyone, in every field, will be involved and engaged in this work. Writing and performing these pieces is a reminder to myself not to get mired in negativity — to stay positive and engaged through music daily.”

The ensemble came together for a debut performance at Zürcher Gallery in December 2018. Throughout 2019, these tracks, recorded in December 2018, were released exclusively to Greenleaf Music subscribers via Bandcamp. Now the entire series becomes available on CD for all listeners to find their own way to ENGAGE.

ENGAGE is being released on the Greenleaf Subscription Series, a model started by the label in 2005 to host recordings and extras exclusive to subscribers. The subscription model is a novel approach that supports all the label artists and helps sustain further productions. ENGAGE is the first of these projects to be made available as an individual title on CD.

Please purchase a CD and join us as a subscriber to gain access to this unique material and more.

Dave Douglas, trumpet
Jeff Parker, guitar
Tomeka Reid, cello
Anna Webber, alto and bass flutes and tenor saxophone
Nick Dunston, bass
Kate Gentile, drums

Production Credits:
Recorded at Recorded on December 3, 2018 at The Bunker Studios, Brooklyn, NY.
Recorded, mixed, and Mastered by Tyler McDiarmid
Assistant Engineer: Nolan Thies
Photography by Anna Yatskevich
Graphics by Lukas Frei

Press Quotes:

“Douglas, 56, is good at pulling musicians together in contexts that support their musical voices but sound different from what they typically do. That’s the case with Engage, a new ensemble that features five younger improvisers, each aligned with a different corner of the avant-garde. As Engage, they play low-boil, medium-tempo music soaked in lovely harmonies; it’s not about centrifugal motion or free improvising so much as it’s about depth and connection and body.”
Giovanni Russonello, New York Times

“Douglas enlists a brilliant team of collaborators: cellist Tomeka Reid, flutist Anna Webber, bassist Nick Dunston, drummer Kate Gentile — and guitarist Jeff Parker, whose solo is a focal point in the track [“Showing Up.”]”
Nate Chinen, WBGO, Take Five Feature

“From the gospel-inflected groove of “Free Libraries” to the “Maiden Voyage”-style pulse that powers “Sanctuary Cities,” Douglas and company make a compelling case that standing up for shared values isn’t just good politics, but good art as well.”
J.D. Considine, Downbeat Editor’s Pick

“Each track … feels like a call to action, inspired by the optimism generated by the opposition to the political toxicity of recent times. This optimism is reflected in the compositions themselves…and in the collaborative spirit of the band.”
Matt Micucci, JAZZIZ ‘The Week in Jazz’ Feature

“A clarity of purpose is prominent in many of these tunes, with golden melodies leading the charge and the sextet’s feisty interplay exploding the themes. Rather than coming off like an ornery indictment of kids being caged at the the border, “How Are The Children?” radiates a dark-hued idealism that offers solace while suggesting transcendence, with saxophonist Ana Webber digging in to offer a variety of emotions in a perpetually flourishing solo.”
Jim Macnie, DownBeat ★★★★

Track 1 - Showing Up

Showing Up. That’s what so many of us did over the past year. Change is coming, and it feels like we’re collectively waking up to the bigger, more fundamental changes that need to happen. Read more…

Track 2 - In It Together

This second piece in the ENGAGE suite forefronts the struggle for wealth equality worldwide. Inequality is one of our most pressing problems, exacerbating many of our other challenges. Read more…

Track 3 - How Are The Children?

Rev. Traci Blackmon brought my attention to this expression from the Maasai. It resonates on so many levels. It came to me around issues towards sensible regulation of firearms in this country. To save lives. Read more…

Track 4 - One Sun, A Million Rays

We’re grateful for the warmth of the sun over the centuries, and we’re grateful for the support systems whereby we help each other and support those in need. This tune is built on a steady but indefinite rhythmic underpinning, over which all unfolds. Read more…

Track 5 - Where Do We Go From Here

Urgency will be required. We’re joined by both Riley Mulherkar and Dave Adewumi on trumpets here. This is an urgent march to the polls. It also means a fight for fair voting nationwide, including all our disenfranchised brothers and sisters. Read more…

Track 6 - Sanctuary Cities

We are not full. We are a growing, breathing, expanding country enriched by our diversity and a warm welcome of all people. Read more…

Track 7 - Everywhere But Here

Joining the fight for this basic human right is something that benefits all of us. As we did last year, we will continue to support the efforts of Physicians For A National Health Program. And as Democrats continue to debate plans for how to make this reality, we will work towards the idea that we all deserve the care and support that is our human birthright. Read more…

Track 8 - Faith Alliance

The title Faith Alliance refers to the sense of global solidarity that it will take to deal with the myriad problems of migration, inequality, and global climate change. International efforts are increasingly, and urgently, required. This month Greenleaf Music will support the International Crisis Group, an independent organization working to prevent wars and shape policies that will build a more peaceful world. Read more…

Track 9 - Free Libraries

There are so many causes that need attention these days. We have to, as always, stay engaged and resolute in our work towards solutions on all fronts. It’s the only way. And we can’t lose site of our own humanity and culture in the process. They keep us human and connected to our heritage and our knowledge. That connection is what makes public schools and libraries such a crucial part of our civic landscape. Read more…

Track 10 - Whole Souls

Crucial to the cause of equality in all areas of this society is the support and inclusion of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. The stories at the It Gets Better project have been an inspiration to me for a long time. With the release of this track, we will support the project and its positive message for LGBTQ+ youth. Real stories change lives. Responding with love is on all of us. Read more…

Track 11 - Living Earth

Living Earth – anyone paying attention knows that this is a dire moment for our planet. Greta Thunberg recently reminded those of us in New York of the power of speaking out and acting up. This is the moment when we must do something. And we are being shown the way by so many brilliant young activists. Read more…

Track 12 - Heart Science

We live in community. We live among many. Everything we do impacts everyone else, and vice versa. Supporting our communities is the smallest act of heart, of kindness. Subscribe to your local news sources. Your local food bank. Support the pursuit of truth in our information biomes. Read more…