The Set List

S1 E7 | FULL EPISODE

Dave Douglas Meets The Westerlies at BRIC Jazz

Come to the foot of the stage with live performances, exclusive back-stage access and in-depth artist interviews with The Set List. In this episode we’ll hear a fresh collaboration featuring three trumpets, two trombones and drums. Trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas collaborates with brass quartet The Westerlies to create a unique soundscape with reflections of jazz, roots, and chamber music.

AIRED: April 03, 2019 | 0:26:46
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TRANSCRIPT

[ Amplifier feedback ]

[ Guitar strumming ]

[ Brass music plays ]

[ Brass music continues ]

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My name is Dave Douglas.

I play trumpet, and I wrote the music

that we're playing tonight.

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Riley: Well, we all grew up in Seattle,

and we moved to New York around the same time,

within the same few years.

Hence the name "Westerlies," for the winds that go west to east.

And we were hanging out in New York,

and listening to music together, checking out music together,

eating dinner together, just as sort of childhood friends.

And at some point, I think it was Willem,

our trombonist, said, "Why don't we try playing music together?"

Two trumpets and two trombones

was a bit of an odd configuration.

But after a few sort of, like, improv sessions, rehearsals,

we started to find a sound that we liked.

And then, 6 years later, we're still playing.

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I tend to write pretty specific passages for the band,

and then ask for really specific improvisational strategies.

So, we're --

at times, in the set, we're left to our own devices.

But I sort of feel like I'm trying to do my job

by providing enough of a pathway for us to go down.

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Dave: One of the things that's really exciting about this band

revolves around Anwar Marshall, the drummer, because as he's --

I've heard him say this.

He had to figure out a different way to play,

because there's no bass, and there's no piano,

and there's no guitar.

It's just five horns and drums.

So, it gives him a lot of freedom, and a lot of room,

but also a lot of responsibility to shape the flow of the pieces.

And normally, when there's three trumpets

and there's a trombone, it's kind of like a big band,

and there's a hierarchy.

And what we're doing is totally not about that at all.

You know, we go on stage, and we're six equals,

and everybody has their job to do.

But it doesn't have this sort of traditional big band vibe

of who's at the top of the pecking order.

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[ Cheers and applause ]

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[ Drum solo plays ]

[ Drum solo continues ]

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[ Cheers and applause ]

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As much as this music comes out of chamber music and jazz

and lots of other influences --

street bands and different brass musics

from different parts of the world --

it comes together in a very American way.

And I don't want to harp on this idea of patriotism in the music,

but I do feel like... for example,

the title track of the album is literally a blues,

which is an American song form

that has a very specific meaning and context.

It comes from a community, and we're playing it.

I mean...

It's my own kind of blues, and it's altered.

It's not Robert Johnson.

It's not Charlie Parker.

But it's a reference to all of those

and so many more influences.

And I feel like part of our statement

is to take this unusual instrumentation

and put it into these channels that are very specific

to our experience in this country.

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We're proud of the jazz education and tradition

and lineage that we've come up in.

And we all feel like it's our job to take that

and do the next thing that's coming along.

And that's really what's the primary motivation,

other than having fun playing music.

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[ Applause ]

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[ Trumpet solo plays ]

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[ Trombone solo plays ]

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[ Drum solo plays ]

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[ Cheers and applause ]

Hey, everybody.

One, two, three.

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[ Trumpet solo plays ]

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Riley: I guess, if audiences were to take away something,

I would hope that the audience sort of jumps into the music

with us, and rides along in the spontaneity

and the improvisation of it, and has an experience

that maybe they didn't expect walking in the door.

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[ Cheers and applause ]

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