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If There Are Mountains

by Dave Douglas & Elan Mehler

  • Streaming + Download

    Pre-order of If There Are Mountains. You get 2 tracks now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it’s released.
    Purchasable with gift card
    releases March 24, 2023

      $10 USD  or more


  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    4-panel digipak designed by Lukas Frei.

    Includes digital pre-order of If There Are Mountains. You get 2 tracks now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it’s released.
    digital album releases March 24, 2023
    item ships out within 3 days
    Purchasable with gift card

      $15 USD or more 


If There Are Mountains
We saw you off And returning through the fields I thought morning dew Had wet my sleeves But it was tears
Even a Nameless Stream
Wolf Orchard
Here on the Plains
Village of No Bells
The Spring Current
With your singing make me lonelier than ever You solitary bird Cuckoo of the forest
Arms Folded to the Moon
A Thicket of Summer Grass
Barn's Burnt Down


From the liner notes - Elan Mehler:

I’ve been pitching Dave Douglas to come record for Newvelle Records since the label began, so it genuinely surprised me when Dave proposed recording a project together. Dave had set some haikus to music in the early 2000’s, and we had covered one of those songs — “Village of No Bells” — on a gig we played together in Denver. I loved the way Dave told an almost parallel story to these short lines from 17th century poet Basho, amplifying the message but also turning it on its head.

Village of No Bells
Spring evenings
What’s to listen for?

Despite my lack of knowledge of Japanese poetry, I started reading haikus and searching for a “click” that would inspire some compositional ideas for me. It was rough going. I had expected this world of ancient Japanese poems to yield images and gestures that would be fertile ground for musical exploration. Haikus, to my uneducated ears, were often quotidian and startlingly matter of fact. But, inspired by Dave’s faith in me, I spent weeks reading through collections, feeling completely lost. Then, I found my spark:

Even a Nameless Stream
Yosa Buson

May rains
Even a nameless stream
Is a frightening thing

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

Very proud to finally see the CD and digital release of this recording originally made for vinyl-only release on Newvelle Records. Here it is, with four extra pieces!

It was inspiring to work with these words. Enjoy and happy listening!

— Dave Douglas


releases March 24, 2023

Dave Douglas, trumpet
Elan Mehler, piano
Dominique Eade, vocals
John Gunther, saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
Simón Willson, bass
Dayeon Seok, drums

Production Credits
Executive Producer: Dave Douglas
Produced by Elan Mehler
Recorded and Mixed by Marc Urselli, May 27th and May 28th 2019 at East Side Sound NYC, New York
Mastered by Tyler McDiarmid
Photos by Anna Yatskevich
Graphic design by Lukas Frei

Dave Douglas compositions © 2023 Dave Douglas Music, BMI.
Elan Mehler compositions © 2023 Elan Mehler Music, BMI except “Here on the Plains” © 2023 Omakase Music / Bucks Publishing.
“Wolf Orchard” & “Here on the Plains” text by Adam McBride-Smith (Copyright Control).


all rights reserved



Dave Douglas New York, New York

Dave Douglas is a prolific trumpeter, composer and educator from New York City.


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