Recorded during Dave Douglas' residence as director of the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music in Banff, Alberta, Bow River Falls finds the trumpeter among an intimate small group of his faculty peers, including clarinetist Louis Sclavis, cellist Peggy Lee, and drummer/laptop musician Dylan van der Schyff. Clearly inspired by the epic natural beauty of Banff, Douglas and his fellow musicians create atmospheric and organic pieces that reference '60s free jazz and contemporary classical chamber music. While Douglas' burnished trumpet sigh is the focal point, this is truly a group effort that often calls to mind iconic efforts by Ornette Coleman and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. To these ends, cuts like "Dark Water" and the title track find Sclavis and Douglas utilizing their instruments in unconventional ways, summoning growls, bleeps, and pinched squelches. Similarly, Lee's cello fluctuates between darkly sonorous long tones and high-pitched whines. The laptop inclusions of van der Schyff were done live in the studio and have an organic quality, blending gurgling white noise, static, and other visceral found sounds with his sensitive percussion interplay. Bow River Falls is a highly rewarding listen and ranks with the best of Douglas' recordings.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar