With over 75 separate recordings of original music 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.”