Dave Douglas

Is A Thousand Evenings jazz? Hmmm. Not according to traditional definitions. There's not a drummer in sight. There's a written score, though additional improvisation by the quartet is allowed. Nontraditional instruments such as accordion and violin are heavily featured alongside mainstays like trumpet and double bass.

One expects the colors created by this combination of strings and winds to sound like chamber music. One doesn't expect things like "On Our Way Home," which sounds like a mariachi piece played by a drunken gypsy orchestra in 7/8 time. Nor does one expect the collision of free jazz improvisation and klezmer music that occurs on "The Branches (for Dave Tarras)." Yet another surprise is "Variety," a virtuoso composition for accordion .

Wait a minute! If we're really talking about jazz, aren't we talking about musicians who see outside the box? Aren't we talking about a journey that can suddenly take a direction that defies expectations? Yes, and that's why Dave Douglas is jazz. He balances surprise and continuity. Thanks to Douglas's considerable talents, there is a unity of direction in each piece. Every song is developed with incredible solos, dynamic accompaniment and lots of variety.

A Thousand Evenings is simply one of the most lyrical, wide-ranging, progressive instrumental albums of the last 12 months. Make sure you give it a listen.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Aaron Howard