Other Worlds

Dave Douglas / Joe Lovano / Sound Prints

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Other Worlds Review

by Matt Collar

Since debuting with their 2015 Wayne Shorter tribute album Sound Prints: Live at Monterey Jazz Festival, Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas' Sound Prints quintet has thrived. While continuing to draw inspiration from Shorter's boundary-pushing work, they've expanded their approach, playing ever more original compositions that build upon their roots in the creative downtown New York scene of the '80s and '90s, and as members of John Zorn's Masada. It was a sound they explored on 2018's Scandal, and one which they bring to full fruition on 2021's expansive Other Worlds. Split evenly between compositions by Douglas and Lovano, Other Worlds finds the trumpeter and saxophonist once again joined by their bandmates pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist Linda May Han Oh, and drummer Joey Baron. Together, they play a broad-minded style of jazz that straddles hard-swinging post-bop and avant-garde free improvisation. It's a sound that evokes the classic Booker Little/Eric Dolphy group of the '60s that recorded at The 5 Spot. Some of the songs have more conventional chordal centers, as with the languid, far-eyed ballad "The Transcendentalists." Primarily, these are adventurous, harmonically open-ended songs that often feel as if they were improvised in the moment out of a single thematic concept. Cuts like "Shooting Stars" and "Antiquity to Outer Space" have a probing, investigative quality marked by bug-like, Thelonious Monk-sounding group interplay. Others, like the propulsive "Sky Miles" bring to mind the harmolodic free bop of Ornette Coleman, as Lovano and Douglas chase each other with bluesy intensity through their group's rich harmonic and rhythmic nebulas. In the best way on Other Worlds, it's easy to lose yourself and get pulled into Sound Prints' interstellar sparring.

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