Dave Douglas / Dave Douglas Tiny Bell Trio

The Tiny Bell Trio

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The Tiny Bell Trio, one of Douglas's many concurrent projects, went on to record regularly since this 1994 debut. Featuring Douglas on trumpet, Brad Shepik on guitar, and Jim Black on drums, the Tiny Bell Trio produces a remarkably full sound despite its sparse instrumentation. In some sense, the lineup recalls the famous Paul Motian/Joe Lovano/Bill Frisell trio, and in fact one hears traces of Frisell in Shepik's playing, particularly on Kurt Weill's dark ballad "The Drowned Girl." However, whereas Motian's group focused for the most part on straight-ahead and free jazz, Douglas's goal here is to absorb musical influences from the Balkans and Europe. Thus we have a traditional Hungarian "Czardas," two pieces by the Hungarian/French composer Joseph Kosma, and an "Arabesque for Clarinet and Piano" (played, of course, on trumpet, guitar, and drums) by the French classical composer Germaine Tailleferre. In addition, Douglas contributes six original compositions, including the slow and stealthy "Road/Home," the vibrant, technically challenging "Shards," and the fractured, off-kilter "Punchy," which vaguely recalls Thelonious Monk's "Trinkle Tinkle." Shepik, for his part, pens "Felijar," one of the most moody and fascinating pieces on the disc. As an early glimpse of Douglas's unconventional brilliance, this one is well worth checking out.

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