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Dezron Douglas - ATALAYA (International Anthem)

21 November 2022

Though probably best known for his work with Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane, Louis Hayes and Trey Anastasio, bassist/composer Dezron Douglas is a fine bandleader in his own right, as evidenced by his latest album ATALAYA. In some ways that list of clients gives hints of what to find here – the spiritual jazz of Sanders, the hard bop of Hayes and the postbop of Coltrane co-mingle on these tracks. The title tune starts off with probing saxophone from Emilio Modeste and a languid rhythm, putting its most supernal foot forward, before evolving into a near-free for all of clashing instrumental textures. Driven by Douglas and drummer Joe Dyson, Jr., “Luna Moth” swings into its bop melody, giving Modeste and pianist George Burton a solid platform for expression. Meanwhile, the post-bopping “More Coffee, Please,” dominated by Burton, would fit in perfectly on a Blue Note album from the late sixties. As a breath of fresh air, singer/lyricist Melvis Santa joins the quartet on the gorgeous ballad “Wheeping {sic] Birch,” fitting in perfectly with her dreamy tones. “J Bird” closes things out back on the bop tip, with Dyson taking the spotlight with a high energy drum solo. Douglas and his cohorts don’t reinvent the wheel on ATALAYA, but they keep it as well-greased as anyone else with jazz as deep in their souls.