Jan 29, 2011

Peter Douskalis: The Dance of the Sea

"Douskalis is clearly a gifted musician, and his fleet-fingered attack often manages to make his Gibson ES-175 sound like several instruments."
Label: Shenandoah Records
Personnel: Peter Douskalis, guitar
Genre: Straight-ahead jazz guitar
Recommended for: everyone

Guitarist and Washington, D.C., native Peter Douskalis is currently an NYU grad student who plays everything from classical to world music, but his latest album, "Dance of the Sea," is a solo jazz effort. If nothing else, the nine tracks, mostly standards, convey an eclectic good taste: Douskalis mixes covers of such chestnuts as "The Girl From Ipanema" and "Whisper Not" with the Beatles' "Come Together" to mostly interesting effect.

Highlights include two takes of "Blue in Green," one a fairly straightforward account of the Miles Davis classic, the other a murkier reworking in which the melody is woven into a tapestry of Douskalis' moody, layered improvising. "Darn That Dream" is a quiet gem; Douskalis embellishes the tune but is smart enough never to veer too far from Jimmy Van Heusen's simple, perfect melody. 

Douskalis is clearly a gifted musician, and on the uptempo numbers his fleet-fingered attack often manages to make his Gibson ES-175 sound like an entire combo. If he's guilty of anything it's of occasionally pouring on too much of his ample technique; a cover of "My Favorite Things" has perhaps a few too many runs, probably in an effort to mimic the monumental energy of John Coltrane's iconic version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein warhorse.

But if Douskalis at times tries too hard that's hardly a sin, especially for a young musician with such obvious chops. All told this is an eminently enjoyable album, and I for one hope Douskalis has the opportunity to record more; paired with an experienced rhythm section, I predict he will settle down and produce music that jazz aficionados will be talking about for years to come.     

-Tony Rogers

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