|Anyone who has followed the career of trumpeter Dave Douglas, knows that he has been strongly influenced by and paid his own tributes to a wide range of music – from Lester Bowie to Mary Lou Williams to Joni Mitchell to Booker Little to Don Cherry and Wayne Shorter. However, few to date know of his admiration for the late clarinetist and erstwhile saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre. Douglas, like Giuffre, constantly reinvents himself, never allowing himself to be defined by one project or association.Similarly, Douglas’ main collaborator in Riverside, Canadian saxophonist Chet Doxas has led a career of great variety – from touring with Canadian pop and folk singers Sam Roberts and Rufus Wainwright to leading bands with Canada’s leading jazz players such as Oliver Jones and Guido Basso as well as stints with American jazz stars Maria Schneider, Joe Lovano, Jason Moran, and Bill Stewart.As it turned out, Chet Doxas shared a love and mutual admiration for Giuffre’s work. Unbeknownst to Doxas, Douglas had previously worked on charts for a Giuffre-inspired project that was never recorded. After meeting at the Banff Centre when Douglas was Director, Doxas invited him to play, and they found their shared interest to be a perfect match. “For me,” Doxas says, “it was his trio with Bley and Swallow. I quickly started studying his earlier work with Shorty Rogers, moving my way forward until his reunion record with Bley and Swallow,Fly Away Little Bird.”The quartet, co-led by Douglas, on trumpet, and Doxas, on clarinet and tenor saxophone, has a rhythm section comprised of Steve Swallow (a former member of the Jimmy Giuffre 3) on electric bass and Jim Doxas (Chet’s brother and frequent collaborator) on drums. Riverside blends a love for improvised music, bluegrass, sacred hymns and Appalachian music to create an aesthetic rooted in both Americana and jazz.Douglas adds, “For me, I have always been fascinated by the trio with Giuffre, Jim Hall and Bob Brookmeyer. It’s kind of unparalleled the way they dealt wit h harmony and rhythm in such a stark setting and in such an open way. Showed how a band can swing so hard without always being driven by the drums or playing ferociously energetic all the time. That trio was so smooth!”“The name Riverside represents the image of the music we both brought to the table,” says Doxas. Douglas adds, “The name references nature – like standing in the mud down by the river – that relaxed and organic quality in folk music and improvisation.”The quartet aims to show their appreciation and respect for the late reedsman and composer, but rather than being just a tribute band and simply performing Giuffre’s repertoire, Douglas and Doxas have composed new music that highlights their inspiration. The piano-less configuration allows for harmonic freedom and gives the group the ability to emphasize the original compositions as well.
“When Jimmy, Paul Bley and I made music together in the 60’s,” Swallow recounts, “it didn't occur to us that it would reverberate over decades. We were, when it came down to it, having a good time, making stuff up as we went along. As Gil Evans once said: ‘a party with a purpose.’ It’s tremendously satisfying to find that music, and the impulses behind it, still alive, and in such strong hands. Dave, Chet and Jim are doing exactly what we were doing back then: looking for ways to move music into new places. Nothing much has changed, and yet it’s all new again.”