Trumpeter Dave Douglas, continuing the innovative approach to tribute records he began in 1994 with the Booker Little homage In Our Lifetime, dedicates Stargazer to the great Wayne Shorter. Only three tracks, however, are Shorter compositions: "Pug Nose," "On the Milky Way Express," and "Diana." The rest are Douglas originals that are inspired by Shorter, although Douglas is far too clever to make the inspiration obvious. Listeners will have to rely on their imaginations to make the Shorter/Douglas connection, which is as it should be with creativity on so high a level. "Goldfish," with its awe-inspiring, chant-like main riff, is the album's highlight. The fast, complex unison lines and free jazz episodes of "Stargazer," with solo spots by drummer Joey Baron and pianist Uri Caine, are also wonderful. Hard-swinging numbers like "Spring Ahead" and "Intuitive Science" contrast strikingly with the tension-filled dissonance of "Four Sleepers" and "Dark Sky." Douglas's writing and playing are highly unpredictable and emotionally rich. His remarkable sextet delivers every note with conviction and finesse. Along with Baron and Caine, bassist James Genus, tenor sax/clarinetist Chris Speed, and trombonist Josh Roseman join forces with Douglas to create music full of character and beauty.
AllMusic Review by David R. Adler