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).
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…