Atalaya is new work by bassist Dezron Douglas, and it is alive. That is, ‘alive’ in all the ways that jazz is at its best – as a pure and personal expression of Black Music channeled through time-honored traditions by a group of musicians who practice sonic coherence through musical unity. As Dezron puts it in the opening statement of his liner notes for the album: “Mysticism, Magic, Faith, Love, Power, Discernment! These are words that embody the creative process of Music.”
Followers of contemporary jazz might recognize Dezron for his bass work behind Pharoah Sanders, Louis Hayes, or Ravi Coltrane. Others might know him as the newest full-time member of the Trey Anastasio Band. Steady International Anthem listeners might remember him from the New York side of Makaya McCraven's Universal Beings. More recently we presented Force Majeure, Dezron’s sublime duo record with harpist Brandee Younger, which compiled the best of livestream performances from their Harlem apartment during the original covid lockdown. That album, which came out in December of 2020, reflected the speed and feeling of the moment while somehow simultaneously distracting from the harsh reality of it. It also captured a very vulnerable, intimate, and real impression of Dezron on double bass, sharing his power and truth without abandon.
Atalaya, similarly, wasn’t processed in the lab, but rather, captured in the room. The realness factor is once again forefront in the sound; but the difference is in the energy and ambition of the music, which reaches for the stratosphere. Again, let’s defer to Dezron here: “Welcome to the Black Lion rocket ship.”
With Emilio Modeste on saxes, George Burton on keys, and Joe Dyson Jr. on drums, Dezron’s crew summons the dynamism of Coltrane’s classic Quartet, or Dave Holland’s Quintet on Prime Directive, or Charles Mingus on Nostalgia In Times Square… swinging virtuosically and firing on all 4 cylinders. But there’s nothing remotely revisionist here – Dezron and his quartet embody poetry, presence, artistic and emotional clarity in every note they play. Free and dissonant, sweet and consonant, sweeping and pure… This is the band you hope is playing every time you walk into a club.
Dezron Douglas – basses
George Burton – piano and rhodes
Joe Dyson Jr. – drums
Emilio Modeste – saxophones
Melvis Santa – vocals and percussion on “Wheeping Birch”
All compositions by Dezron Douglas (NORZED Music ASCAP); except “Wheeping Birch” co-written by Dezron Douglas and Melvis Santa (TENAJA Sounds ASCAP).
Recorded by Dave Vettraino, with assistance from Greg Dicastro, at Firehouse 12, New Haven, Connecticut, on August 25th and 26th, 2021. “Octopus” and vocals on “Wheeping Birch” recorded by David Stoller at Samurai Hotel, Astoria, New York, on November 28th, 2021.
Produced by Dezron Douglas.
Mixed by Dave Vettraino.
Mastered by David Allen.
Artwork by Adama Coulibaly.
Photography by Deneka Peniston.
Liner Notes by Dezron Douglas.
Design by Jeremiah Chiu.
160g Classic Black LP in Heavyweight Reverse-Board Jacket, with IARC OBI strip & dome-pattern inner sleeve. Pressed at Smashed Plastic in Chicago, with lacquers cut by Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Service.