Dave Douglas & Keystone | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Dave Douglas & Keystone 

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Trumpeter Dave Douglas organizes so many bands it's almost irritating. I wish he'd spend more time with one of them--Nomad, Tiny Bell Trio, Charms of the Night Sky--to see where it might go. But his records are consistently good to great, and the new Keystone (Greenleaf) is no exception. Once again Douglas is experimenting with contemporary electronic sounds, as he did on albums like Freak In (2003) and Sanctuary (1997). Jamie Saft's psychedelically coloristic Wurlitzer playing gives the tunes a tensile funkiness that can support Douglas's typically protean soloing, and turntablist DJ Olive extends Saft's keyboard patterns with samples that give the music a gorgeously warped sound; Olive's time-stretching interplay with drummer Gene Lake fits right in. Douglas wrote the material on Keystone to accompany Fatty and Mable Adrift, a 1916 silent film by Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, the comic giant whose career prematurely ended after he was falsely charged with murder in 1921. The usual impulse when scoring silent films is to compose period music, but the songs on the new album are thoroughly contemporary. In the liner notes Douglas says he wanted to reflect the "fun," "innocence," and "wicked sense of humor and the absurd" in Arbuckle's work, and he does just that; just about all the pieces emphasize instrumental soul and jazz themes, but the music doesn't sound wrong for the film, a DVD of which is included with the CD. Indeed, it often heightens the zany ingenuity of Arbuckle's direction. For this show Douglas is joined by Lake, saxophonist Marcus Strickland, and bassist Brad Jones, who all play on the album, as well as turntablist Jahi Sundance and Adam Benjamin on Fender Rhodes. They'll play original scores for Fatty and Mable Adrift and three other Arbuckle silents. They'll also perform some pieces without visual accompaniment. Sat 10/8, 7 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $25, $21 seniors and kids. All ages.

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