The Squid's Ear Magazine

Douglas, Dave and Elan Mehler: If There Are Mountains (Greenleaf Music)

Originally released as an LP on the French Newvelle Records label co-founded by pianist Elan Mehler, here reissued with four additional recordings of beautifully lyrical jazz pivoting around Japanese haiku's, from the sextet led by Mehler and NY trumpeter Dave Douglas with vocalist Dominique Eade, reedist John Gunther, bassist Simon Willson, and drummer Dayeon Seok.

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product information:

UPC: 186980000992

Label: Greenleaf Music
Catalog ID: CD-GRE-1099
Squidco Product Code: 33051

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded at East Side Sound, in New York, New York, on May 27th and 28th, 2019, by Marc Urselli. Originally released in 2020 on the French label Newvelle Records as a vinyl LP with catalog code NV027.


Dave Douglas-trumpet

Elan Mehler-piano

Dominique Eade-vocals

John Gunther-saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet

Simon Willson-bass

Dayeon Seok-drums

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"The Dave Douglas and Elan Mehler Sextet mixes seasoned veterans with relative newcomers, setting poetry and specifically haiku into the context of improvising music. On If There Are Mountains, their first album as co-leaders, the trumpeter and pianist are joined by vocalist Dominique Eade, reedist John Gunther, bassist Simon Willson, and drummer Dayeon Seok.

If There Are Mountains, previously released only to vinyl on Mehler's label Newvelle Records, now sees a fresh release via Douglas' own label Greenleaf Music. Douglas and Mehler composed 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".

While the spark for Douglas and Mehler's collaboration around haiku goes back two decades to an early performance of Douglas' Village of No Bells, this vocal-forward ensemble sounds undeniably fresh. The group presents unusual melodic relationships with concise expression, matching the form of the Japanese poetry found within the lyrics."-Greenleaf Music

Artist Biographies

"Dave Douglas is a prolific trumpeter, composer, educator and entrepreneur from New York City known for the stylistic breadth of his work and for keeping a diverse set of ensembles and projects active simultaneously.

His unique contributions to improvised music have garnered distinguished recognition, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Aaron Copland award, and two GRAMMY® nominations. While his career spans more than 40 recordings as a leader, his active projects include his Quintet; Sound Prints, a quintet co-led with saxophonist Joe Lovano; Riverside, a quartet co-led with Chet Doxas; a duo with pianist Uri Caine; and, debuting in 2015, High Risk, an electronic music-influenced quartet with Mark Guiliana, Jonathan Maron and Shigeto.

Since 2005, Douglas has operated his own record label, Greenleaf Music, releasing his own recordings as well as albums by other artists in the jazz idiom. Through his artist-friendly approach and innovative practices, he continues to prove himself a pioneer among artist-run labels.

Douglas has held several posts as an educator and continues to be very active as a director and programmer. He has been named the Artistic Director for the 2016 season of the Bergamo Jazz Festival, which occurs every year in March. Starting in 2012, Douglas was engaged for two years as International Jazz Artist in Residence at the Royal Academy of Music in London and launched his own Jazz Workshop, dedicated to enriching the musical experiences of younger players. 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 director of the Festival of New Trumpet Music, which was founded in 2002 to support new music by a diverse community of trumpet and brass players. He also co-hosts, with Michael Bates, a podcast called Noise From the Deep which was named the top jazz podcast by the JazzTimes critics poll in 2014."

-Dave Douglas Website (

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"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."

-Elan Meh Website (

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Dominique Eade: "Poetic and passionate, American vocalist, composer and improviser Dominique Eade blends musical virtuosity with a songwriter's straightforward emotional sensibility, creating music that has garnered critical acclaim, inspired audiences, and served as a creative signpost for generations of singers. The New York Times called Eade "an exceptional singer" with a "wide vocal range and a grasp on the intricacies of style," one "who weighs a chanteuse's coolness against a jazz musician's exploratory instincts." The Atlantic Monthly recognized Eade for her "rich voice and effortless delivery" while the Boston Phoenix called her music "sublime and daring." Eade's performances throughout the United States, Latin America and Europe include the Buenos Aires Jazz Festival, the Bell Atlantic Jazz Festival, Mountain Stage, the Rigas Ritmi Jazz Festival, the Panama Jazz Festival, the Molde International Jazz Festival, and the What is Jazz Festival, and clubs such as Los Angeles' The Jazz Bakery, New York's The Blue Note, The Five Spot and The Jazz Standard, D.C.'s Jazz Alley and Boston's RegattaBar. Eade was signed to RCA Victor in 1998, recording with jazz luminaries Dave Holland, Victor Lewis and Benny Golson.

Deemed "a fearless collaborator" by pianist Fred Hersch, Eade's musical associations have ranged from Alan Dawson and Stanley Cowell to MacArthur grant recipients Ran Blake and Anthony Braxton. In 2017, NPR Critic Nate Chinen listed Blake and Eade's performance of music from their critically acclaimed Town andCountry (Sunnyside) at New York's Park Avenue Armory as one of the Top Ten Jazz Performances of the year. Eade has recorded and co-produced 7 CD's under her name, landing her on top ten lists at Billboard, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, DownBeat magazine, the Jazz Journalist Association, and elsewhere. Appearing as a guest in jazz and contemporary classical ensembles including the Either Orchestra and Boston Musica Viva, Eade is the featured vocalist on the 2020 Dave Douglas/Elan Mehler album, If There Are Mountains (Newvelle). Eade was nominated for Best Debut Artist in the 1998 First Annual Jazz Awards in New York City, and received the 2006 Outstanding Alumni Award at New England Conservatory, where as a teacher for over 3 decades, she has mentored an array of talented musicians including Roberta Gambarini, Michael Mayo, Rachel Price, Sofia Rei, Jorge Roeder, Sara Serpa, Sarah Jarosz, Darynn Dean, Luciana Souza, Akenya Seymour, Jo Lawry, Aoife O'Donovan, and many others."

-Dominique Eade Website (

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"John Gunther is a performer, multi-instrumentalist playing Saxophones, Clarinet, and Flute. With a restless musical spirit, he explores all forms of jazz, but he's just as likely to play with a string quartet, classical new music group, or as an electronic artist. As a "performing composer" he's performed on stages throughout the US, South America, Europe, and Africa. Current projects include a collaboration with the Moroccan musician Fourat Koyo, musical adventures with "Safari Trio", straight-ahead jazz with "Convergence"and performance, art, and technology with the Boulder Laptop Orchestra (BLOrk). As a recording artist, Gunther recently collaborated with the renowned Carpe Diem String Quartet to create the album Trickster Tales. Another recent album with the New West Quartet, is called East and West, featuring both American and European jazz musicians released by Fresh Sound Records. Gunther has performed and recorded with many other jazz luminaries from Jimmy Heath and Ron Miles to The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band and The Woody Herman Orchestra. As part of New York city's "downtown" music scene for many years, he produced five recordings for Creative Improvised Music Projects (CIMP). Additionally, he is a Professor and Director of the Thompson Jazz Studies Program at CU Boulder. He can be booked for performances and contacted about collaborations or commissions, as well as teaching opportunities, such as individual lessons, residencies, and master classes."

-John Gunther Website (

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"Simón Willson is a Chilean born, New York City based bassist, composer and improviser. As an eclectic and in demand sideman, he has toured with a host of different artists in Europe, the US, Canada, and South America. His wide-ranging interest in different realms of Jazz and improvised music has led him to work with a diverse pool of established artists such as Dave Douglas, Ethan Iverson, Steve Cardenas, George Garzone, Jason Palmer, Rodney Green, Pablo Held, Jim Black, Tim Miller, Frank Carlberg, among many others. He also plays in bands of contemporaries such as Kevin Sun and Max Light. In addition to his sideman work, he co-leads the bands Great on Paper, Family Plan, and Earprint. The latter won the "best debut album" category of the NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll in 2016, and Family Plan released its debut album September 2021 due to receiving a generous grant from the Chilean government. Willson can be heard on over thirty records for labels such as Tzadik, Steeplechase, Newvelle, Fresh Sound New Talent, Endectomorph, in addition to a number of self-releases. He has recently been featured in albums as a member of Dave Douglas' Sextet, Elan Mehler's "TJ & the Revenge'' project alongside GRAMMY award-winning guitar player Bill Frisell, and a double record entitled "Live at Wally's'' with celebrated trumpet player Jason Palmer as part of his quintet."

-Simon Willson Website (

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"Dayeon Seok is a drummer from South Korea who plays in various styles including swing, European jazz, Latin, and classical. She studied at Berklee and NYU since moving to the US. Seok released an EP of her own and has also recorded music with artists like Kevin Sun, and the groups Sferos and Tidepool Fauna."

-New Velle Records (

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Track Listing:

1. If There Are Mountains 4:32

2. We Saw You Off 4:32

3. Even a Nameless Stream 3:59

4. Wolf Orchard 3:16

5. Haiku 3:07

6. Here on the Plains 4:02

7. Village Of No Bells 5:24

8. The Spring Current 4:10

9. With Your Singing 4:41

10. Arms Folded To The Moon 3:23

11. A Thicket Of Summer Grass 4:07

12. Barn's Burn Down 4:50

13. Life 3:50

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Song Based Music
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
Sextet Recordings
New in Improvised Music
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