Moonshine CD cover
Dedicated Bioscope watchers will know that I like a little jazz with my silents, and that earlier this year I reported on seeing American trumpeter Dave Douglas and his Keystone band playing music inspired (obliquely) by the work of Fatty Arbuckle at the Bray Jazz festival in Ireland. Well, blow me down if they haven’t produced a CD of the music, but it’s a live recording from the Bray concert itself, so you can hear me applauding in the background.
The CD is entitled Moonshine, which is of course the title of a 1918 film that Arbuckle made with Buster Keaton, probably best known for its much-imitated gag of having a seemingly endless procession of people pour out of a car. Douglas’ music is not really intended as accompaniment to Arbuckle’s films (it certainly doesn’t work in that way), and is more an expression of ideas inspired by Arbuckle’s work. As Douglas says:
But these pieces weren’t written as soundtracks, more as reflections on great forgotten absurdities like ‘Mabel and Fatty’s Married Life’ and ‘The Rough House.’ The bounce and bubble of those characters begged for a beat – shimmering shadows on the screen hinting at hidden crevices of texture and timbre. The songs reflect the atmosphere of those innocent/zany black and white images, refracted through a 21st century jazz sensibility, interpreted by an eclectic collection of gifted musicians.
Those musicians are Douglas (trumpet), Marcus Strickland (saxophone), Adam Benjamin (keyboards), Brad Jones (double bass), Gene Lake (drums) and DJ Olive (turntables and laptop – yep, its modern jazz, folks).
The CD is released on 27 November, but it seems it is available now as MP3 downloads. There’s more information on the Greenleaf Music site.
Douglas and Keystone have released two other CDs, Keystone and Keystone: Live in Sweden.
I’m seated ten rows back on the right, by the way…
Update: Arbuckle and Keaton’s Moonshine has just been posted on YouTube, with Dave Douglas’ ‘score’. Moonshine only survives in a regrettably fragmentary state, hence the gaps in the narrative and the abruptness of several shots. See what you think…
I bought the Moonshine and earlier Keystone album. The earlier one came with the dvd and an audio copy. Why did Moonshine’s visual component become fragmented? Extremely Great regardless…
Your comment arrived just as I put Dave Douglas’ Charms of the Night Sky on the CD player – what timing.
It seems odd, particularly as Moonshine the film can be seen on the Greenleaf website, but presumably they found releasing the DVD with CD as happened with Keystone wasn’t economic, so they went for the split delivery this time. Haven’t got my copy – doesn’t seem to be in the shops in London as yet.
Got my copy at last. Superb throughout. Can’t see that it has anything to do with Fatty Arbuckle or silent comedy, but if that’s what’s inspired him, then so be it. It’s certainly inspired playing.