Somnambule - Writing About Music

Douglas/Sclavis/Lee/Van Der Schyff ~ Bow River Falls

The conclusion of Douglas’s contract to RCA has freed him to release collaborations like this one, recorded during Canada’s Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music of which he was director. The group begin with Blinks, embellished with a tripping art deco-like melody whose form quickly disintegrates into a freeform passage full of trilling, up and down motion. Peggy Lee establishes the mournful tone of the title track with her swooning cello, but it’s leavened by Douglas's authoritative but sympathetic playing and Van Der Schyff's gravelly digitalia. The quartet’s unusual instrumentation creates an interesting tonal palette and the music veers between free passages, walking rhythms and carefully enunciated melodies. Despite some lovely contributions from the others, Douglas's playing stands out. By turns he’s mercurial, fluid and remarkably tender, his tone is like fresh mountain water, its clarity further emphasised by the occasional injection of blues intonation. Recommended.
Colin Buttimer
October 2004
Published by Jazzwise magazine