Saxophonist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas debuted their extraordinary Sound Prints quintet on Blue Note Records in 2013, the year of Wayne Shorter’s 80th birthday, and from the outset the group had a joyful but somewhat imposing mandate: to lift up Shorter’s legacy through the writing and performance of new music conceived in his risk-taking, fearlessly inventive spirit.
“Ultimately, Sound Prints walk the line between muscular, tangible post-bop and free-flowing, avant-garde playing; a tantalizing dance that never fails to leave an impression” – AllMusic
“the real meat of the recording, and of the band, is their interplay: harmony, counterpoint, call-and-response. It’s not what one might expect from a project inspired by Wayne Shorter. But Sound Prints is less about Shorter’s individual style than his audacity and innovation, and on those fronts Live triumphs” – JazzTimes
Joseph Salvatore Lovano was born in Cleveland, Ohio on December 29, 1952 and grew up in a very musical household. His dad, Tony, aka Big T, was a barber by day and a big-toned tenor player at night. “Big T,” along with his brothers Nick and Joe, other tenor players, and Carl, a bebop trumpeter, made sure Joe’s exposure to Jazz and the saxophone were early and constant.
Joe’s mom, Josephine, and her sister Rose were serious listeners, as well, His Mom remembers hearing Big T play opposite Stan Getz and Flip Phillips when they were engaged. And Aunt Rose went to hear Jazz at the Philharmonic with Ella Fitzgerald when they came through Cleveland.
Not surprisingly, Joe began playing the alto at five, switching to the tenor a few years later. By the time he got his driver’s license at sixteen, Joe Lovano was a member of the Musician’s Union, Local 4, and working professionally. He started playing club dates (sometimes subbing for his dad), and Motown cover bands, eventually saving enough money from these gigs to put himself through college.
With over 60 recordings as a leader and many more with other groups, Dave Douglas is well established as the leading trumpeter of his generation. If further proof is needed, Douglas has been recognized as Trumpet Player of the Year by the DownBeat Critics Poll thirteen times since 2000.
Douglas’s musical development started when he began playing the piano at the age of five, then trombone at seven before discovering the trumpet at nine. He learned jazz harmony in high school and began playing improvised music as an exchange student in Barcelona, Spain. From 1981 to 1983 he studied in Boston, first at the Berklee School of Music, then the New England Conservatory. He moved to New York City in 1984, where he attended New York University and studied with Carmine Caruso.
In 1987, he toured Europe with Horace Silver. According to Douglas, “Playing with Horace Silver was a formative experience for me. Seeing and hearing him shape the music night after night taught me a lot about presenting music.” Douglas continued to his evolve as a trumpeter, notably in Don Byron’s klezmer band and John Zorn’s quartet, Masada, but also with many more including Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, Myra Melford, Han Bennink, Joe Lovano, Martial Solal, Vincent Herring — all musicians who Douglas credits with having a profound influence on his career as a musician.
Douglas’s transcendent style and sweeping vision, however, is most evident when he plays as leader in the many ensembles and bands he’s assembled over the years. Every project presents a new creative challenge as the trumpet mixes and blends with ever changing instrumentation and structures — from sparing with Joe Lovano’s saxophone in the co-led Sound Prints, to exploring the shape note tradition with pianist Uri Caine on Present Joys, pushing brass music traditions with the Brass Ecstasy quintet, to merging his trumpet with Shigeto’s electronic music.
As Larry Blumenfeld wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Despite its range, Mr. Douglas’s music sounds of one piece, connected most clearly by his trumpet playing, which can be sweet and pure or crackling and pungent, precisely stated or smeared toward wildness.”