Essential New Music: Dave Douglas’ “High Risk”


How do you mix the immediacy of jazz with the intricate, painstaking architecture of electronica? The short answer is that you don’t, because it doesn’t work. The longer answer—if you’re trumpeter Dave Douglas and you’ve done this before—is that you send tunes and tracks to your new collaborator, Shigeto, who you met at a one-off gig at Town Hall. You enlist people you’ve known for years, like Mark Guiliana (drums), Jonathan Maron (bass), Geoff Countryman (recording engineer) and Steve Wall (mixing engineer). You schedule a full day of recording, followed by four long months of post-production, and voila!

So, what do you get? An album that never completely makes up its mind, pulling in different directions at once. An album with some amazing moments of synchronicity, when Shigeto’s swirling soundscapes mesh with Douglas’ cool lyricism, Guiliana’s high-intensity pounding, Maron’s funky elegance and Wall’s special effects. An album where both worlds can co-exist, if only temporarily, and all that high-wire brilliance, all that risk, seems worth the effort.

—Kenny Berkowitz