If There Are Mountains Dave Douglas & Elan Mehler
Label: Greenleaf Music
Subgenre: Modern Jazz
Artist: Dave Douglas & Elan Mehler
Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)
- 1If There Are Mountains04:32
- 2We Saw You Off04:31
- 3Even a Nameless Stream03:58
- 4Wolf Orchard03:16
- 6Here on the Plains04:01
- 7Village of No Bells05:23
- 8The Spring Current04:10
- 9With Your Singing04:41
- 10Arms Folded to the Moon03:23
- 11A Thicket of Summer Grass04:06
- 12Barn's Burnt Down04:49
Info for If There Are Mountains
"If There Are Mountains" is the first album by Dave Douglas and Elan Mehler as co-leaders, setting poetry and specifically haiku within the context of improvising music.
The lyrical arrangements feature celebrated vocalist Dominique Eade throughout the album. Douglas and Mehler composed the music of all thirteen tracks between themselves, including four never-before-heard songs: Douglas’ “Arms Folded to the Moon”, “A Thicket of Summer Grass”, and “Life” plus Mehler’s “Barn’s Burnt Down”.
"I heard those first two words, “May rains,” in an ascending interval of a fifth. A declaration and a harbinger and the rest of the song followed in minutes. I loved building these compositions out of such coded input. It felt like a key to a secret world. When I heard what Dave had been composing in our first rehearsal, it sent me reeling (and back to the drawing board on my own tunes). Dave is well-known in certain circles for his fastidious charts, but not in the way you would expect. There’s a movement in improvised music toward the overly elaborate composition. Mixed meter, thorough composition, elaborate counterpoint, and huge stylistic changes are all commonplace. In contrast, Dave’s compositions are generally very simple but also very precise. This rigor of attention is actually freeing for the musician, because the departure point is so clear. Something in Dave’s style has a clear consonance with the haiku form: "Start here. Jump."
What an incredible band we’ve pulled together for this record! John, Dominique, Simón and Dayeon have such unique perspectives and voices, and it was humbling to see how they threw themselves into these compositions. This band coalesced around the initial gig in Denver in 2018. Dave and Dominique had known each other for many years. I had just met Dominique at a Lee Konitz show, and we subsequently played a duo show. Dominique is a bit of a legend around Boston. She’s been a mentor and a teacher to many if not most of the outstanding vocalists of the last couple of decades, and her years of work with Ran Blake are a continual astonishment.
Working on these pieces made me think of one of my favorite poets and song writers, Adam McBride-Smith. Adam has a real gift for evocative natural depictions. I had set to music a poem of his, “Here on the Plains,” for a project we released together in 2010. I knew it would be perfect for this band. OnceI started tinkering with it, I reached out to Adam about working on something new, and he wrote the astonishing lyrics to “Wolf Orchard.”
The overwhelming emotion I get out of listening again to the record, almost a year after we got out of the studio, is gratitude. I’m writing these notes in June 2020, and the world feels VERY unbalanced and frightening. It’s such a balm to feel thankful. To feel connected—with these poets, these amazing musicians, the music, the Newvelle Community, Marc Urselli and our home at East Side Sound, the visual artists who lend us their work every year... It all spins out into something larger and it alights on an evening like this, like an enormous gift." (Elan Mehler)
Dave Douglas, trumpet
Elan Mehler, piano
Dominique Eade, vocals
John Gunther, saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
Simón Willson, bass
Dayeon Seok, drums
is a prolific trumpeter, composer, and educator from New York City known for the stylistic breadth of his work, the lyricism and wide-ranging curiosity of his music, and for keeping a diverse set of ensembles and projects active simultaneously.
His unique contributions to improvised music have garnered distinguished recognition, including a Doris Duke Artist Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Aaron Copland award, and two Grammy Award nominations. Douglas’ career spans more than 60 unique original recordings as a leader and more than 500 published works. His current ensembles include: Dave Douglas Quintet; Sound Prints, a quintet co-led with saxophonist Joe Lovano; OVERCOME, an ensemble featuring vocalists Fay Victor and Camila Meza, as well as Ryan Keberle, Jorge Roeder, and Rudy Royston; UPLIFT, a sextet including bassist Bill Laswell; Present Joys, a longstanding duo with pianist Uri Caine which recently added Andrew Cyrille as third member for a 2019 recording; High Risk, an electronic ensemble with Shigeto, Jonathan Maron, and Ian Chang; ENGAGE, a sextet with Jeff Parker, Tomeka Reid, Anna Webber, Nick Dunston, and Kate Gentile; Marching Music, a quartet featuring Rafiq Bhatia, Melvin Gibbs, and Sim Cain; Dizzy Atmosphere: Dizzy Gillespie in Zero Gravity featuring Dave Adewumi, Matthew Stevens, Fabian Almazan, Carmen Rothwell, and Joey Baron. Douglas is often engaged in special projects which include big bands, tributes, and multi-trumpet ensembles, such as Dizzy Atmosphere.
As a composer, Douglas has received commissions from a variety of organizations including the Trisha Brown Dance Company, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Norddeutscher Rundfunk, Essen Philharmonie, The Library of Congress, Stanford University, and Monash Art Ensemble. The American chamber orchestra Alarm Will Sound recently premiered his piece Facts and Fictions.
Douglas has held several posts as an educator and programmer. From 2002 to 2012, he served as artistic director of the Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music at the Banff Centre in Canada. He is a co-founder and president of the Festival of New Trumpet Music, which celebrated its 17th anniversary in 2020. He is currently on the faculty at Mannes School of Music and The New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music. He was the Artistic Director of the Bergamo Jazz Festival for four years ending in 2019.
In 2005 Douglas founded Greenleaf Music, an umbrella company for his recordings, sheet music, podcast, as well as the music of other artists in the modern jazz idiom. Greenleaf Music has produced over 80 releases and celebrated its fifteenth year in 2020. In addition to hosting a podcast featuring engaging interviews with more than 100 creative artists, Greenleaf Music recently joined Bandcamp for Labels and is a pioneering independent music platform with a strong subscription model featuring hours of exclusive content.
Since 2007, Elan Mehler has released eleven albums as a leader, featuring musicians such as Bill Frisell, Dave Douglas, Becca Stevens, Francisco Mela and Tony Scherr. He's released records on Brownswood Recordings out of London, Challenge Records out of Amsterdam and Newvelle Records in NYC.
In 2016, Elan founded Newvelle Records with partner Jean-Christophe Morisseau. He has since produced over 50 records featuring musicians from the pinnacle of the jazz world including: Jack DeJohnette, John Patitucci, Rufus Reid, Lionel Loueke, Skuli Sverrisson and many more. 2020 featured a new project of New Orleans music with legends Irma Thomas, Little Freddie King, Ellis Marsalis and Jon Cleary. In 2021 Elan produced a massive tribute to the much beloved pianist/composer Frank Kimbrough. The resulting 5 1/2 hour long album featured 68 musicians and ranked #2 on Slate's "top 10 records of 2021." 2022 features the release of the "Renewal Collection" featuring more of Jazz's luminaries, including Dave Liebman, Michael Blake, Nadje Noorduis, Francisco Mela, Tony Scherr, Ben Monder and Fred Hersch.
Through Newvelle Records Elan has commissioned and produced a number of events around the world including many concerts including the week long Jazz Festival “Newvelle Live” in 2019, a short story from acclaimed novelist Douglas Kennedy and a short film, "Listening In," about pianist and educator Billy Lester. A film about the Newvelle New Orleans Collection, directed and produced by Ben Chace, was premiered at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.
“Mehler’s touch is as nuanced as Bill Evans’s, and his phrasing draws on both jazz and classical music without directly importing licks from either. The subdued certainties of his playing bring a crowded room to total silence." — John Fordham, The Guardian