Dave Douglas' Brass Ecstasy

Trumpeter Dave Douglas’ new album, Spirit Moves, featuring his Brass Ecstasy quintet, is a rouser: hot, cool, raucous, pensive, sometimes all at once, and always a lot of fun. The band’s name is a play on the late Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy, and they share a similar hard-blowing vibe—as well as two of the players (Luis Bonilla on trombone and Vincent Chancey on French horn)—but where Bowie used the band to riff on the pop tunes of the day (long before The Bad Plus), Douglas’ sources are mainly original tunes with a zesty swing and a dash of his trademark Mediterranean melancholy.

Douglas has been a celebrator of his colleagues in brass (each year, he curates a Trumpet Festival in New York), and Brass Ecstasy lives up to its name; there are no strings or chord instruments (Marcus Rojas on tuba trots the bassline); Nasheet Waits slides around them all on the trapset.

All the players are masters of their domain, and they play together with amazing tightness, though you might not know it at first listen because they smear and sputter just enough to make things grind without tumbling into sloppiness (a tightrope line to walk, much less prance along).

I saw the band at the Jazz Standard Thursday night (they play through Sunday), and everyone was having a merry time. They blow their brains out, and I wonder how their lips will survive through the summer tour they’ve laid out. Go see them if they’re in your town. Sit up front, and let the sound wash over you.

Meanwhile, the album—on Douglas’ self-owned Greenleaf Music label—is a fine sample of what they do, and the sonics are superb: clear, dynamic and, well, brassy.

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