Keystone revisited

Keystone live

The Bioscope has been taking a short break while I’ve been holidaying in Ireland, but one of the reasons for going was to see Dave Douglas and his Keystone sextet play at the Bray Jazz festival. As reported in an earlier post, jazz musician and composer Dave Douglas was inspired by the films of Fatty Arbuckle to release a CD (with accompanying DVD) in 2005 entitled Keystone, which is perhaps rather more his response to the happy anarchy of Arbuckle’s films and his sad fate rather than music to accompany the films. As it is, the concert – which was utterly superb, exuberant modern jazz of the highest order – didn’t feature Arbuckle’s films at all, as had been trailed, so whether it all works in a live setting I cannot say (the DVD that goes with the CD suggests not). Some of the set was inspired by Arbuckle and Keaton’s The Rough House (1917), though the bit with just trumpet and turntables intercutting between an Iraqi woman singing and George Bush uttering the word ‘terrorist’ suggests that Douglas takes his interpretation of Arbuckle’s work quite broadly.

Anyway, the set will eventually be recorded for a follow-up Keystone CD, but in the meanwhile there’s a live CD now available of his previous Keystone set, recorded in Sweden in 2005. Here’s the blurb from the CD site:

In a brilliant stroke of tour routing, this gig at the Umea Jazz Festival in northern Sweden was immediately preceded by the San Francisco jazz festival in California and followed by one in Cormons, Italy. Nonetheless everyone came ready to play. The Keystone sound really came together here: sloppy and wild, but also focused, lyrical, delicate, and at times simply bizarre. Also, like the films it was written to, it was a lot of fun. The concert began with a showing of Fatty and Mabel Adrift, Roscoe Arbuckle’s 1915 three-reeler, probably the first (and finest?) surreal comico-psychological thriller drama. Next, we played the three main themes from my score for Mabel and Fatty’s Wash Day (in which the perennial slapstick potential of the laundry line is used to address some semi-serious marital issues) without accompanying the film. Finally, as an encore, we played Luke the Dog, written to the heroic canine suspense vehicle, Fatty’s Plucky Pup. Though we edited the chit chat and whatnot, this is the way the gig was played.

The man certainly knows and loves his Arbuckle. See you back in Blighty very soon.

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