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Secular Psalms

by Dave Douglas

supported by
Robert Karlovits
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Robert Karlovits The Bandcamp people do not get enough credit for including liner notes with their releases. One of the drawbacks of digital music is the lack of detailed information. Such thoughts are necessary for an album as deep and challenging as "Secular Thoughts". Favorite track: We Believe.
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eriberi Dave Douglas' "Secular Psalms" offers a unique and highly successful amalgamation of European classical and jazz styles through the centuries or decades, but also with progressive rock and folk song influences. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the musicians were not together in the studio, but nevertheless the interplay is great. Apart from the well-known cello maestra Tomeka Reed, talented young musicians from Belgium and the Netherlands are involved. The music speaks for itself. Favorite track: Agnus Dei.
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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    6-panel digipak designed by Lukas Frei.

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Arrival 08:36
Mercy 06:29
Text from Marvin Gaye, the Latin Mass, Psalm 59, and Dave Douglas: Mercy Mercy Me, Kyrie Eleison. Mercy mercy me, but I will sing of the bright sun rising each brand new day.
We Believe 04:02
Text from the Latin Mass: Credo Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, Factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium. We believe in one God, the father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and all things visible and invisible. Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem, Qui locutus est per prophetas. And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life Who spake through the prophets. Et expect resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venture saeculi. Amen. And we await the resurrection of the dead And the life of the coming age. Amen.
Agnus Dei 04:46
Text from the Latin Mass: Agnus Dei. Dona Nobis Pacem. Lamb of god. Give us peace.
Text from Christine de Pisan, translated from old french by Dwight Durling If I'm In Church More Often Now It’s just that I can see her there Fresh as new-opened roses are. Why gossip of it, why endow It with such consequence? Why stare If I’m in church more often now? Where I may go—or when—or how It is to come more near to her. Fools call me fool! It’s whose affair If I’m in church more often now?
Ah Moon 06:19
Text from Christine de Pisan, translated from old french by Muriel Kittle Hé lune! trop luis longuement, Par toy pers les biens doucereux Qu’Amours donne aux vrais amoureux. Ta clarté nuit trop durement A mon cuer qui est desireux, Hé lune! trop luis longuement. Car tu fais le decevrement De moy et du doulz savoureux; Nous ne t’en savons gré tous deux, Hé lune! trop luis longuement. Ah moon, you shine too long, You do the honeyed joys remove, Given true lovers by Love. Your brightness does much wrong My heart, desiring love; Ah moon, you shine too long. For you are too revealing Of me and the sweets of love; Neither of us grateful prove, Ah moon, you shine too long
Text by Dave Douglas Edge of night, edge of night, When the fireflies dart with light, Knowing they’ve got to fly away, light won’t stay. Edge of night, edge of day, Shadows flickering in one last ray. Making this music, will help us to heal, Even as the world continues to reel. We laugh We dance We love We pray Even as we mourn.


Inspired by and dedicated to The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by Jan and Hubert van Eyck - a polyptych originally painted for display in St. Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium. Begun in the mid 1420s and completed by 1432.

Secular Psalms took shape over a medieval-seeming time span. The first messages from Wim date to July 10, 2018, when we began to formulate a plan to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the Altarpiece with creation of new music. Research led to a few discoveries: elements of the polyptych were moved and/or stolen, then almost entirely recovered over the years. A restoration begun in 2012 discovered that the work had been mostly overpainted around 1550—removal of the overpaint revealed an almost entirely new contemporary vision of the piece.

The Van Eyck worked in the court of Philip The Good of Burgundy, speaking multiple languages. It’s likely they would have encountered composer Guillaume Dufay and writer Christine de Pisan in the same court. Bringing in elements of both these artists helped give me a connection to the atmosphere of those times. With a band and instrumentation in place, we were on our way.

Then all work came to a halt. Initially, like for so many of us, it was unclear how work would carry on. I kept writing. The meaning of the piece (and the title) took on a new scope as we dealt with the global crisis. Close communication with the assembled musicians, shut down in their own home countries, helped cement the message and the meaning of Secular Psalms: sacred songs for all of us as we are. We continued working. The first parts were recorded around May 2020. Over the course of a year and a half, my score came to life as I worked with each musician to create their performances. New techniques had to be invented to capture interactive improvisations. And new texts came in as I began to write them myself, in addition to the Latin Mass, Marvin Gaye, and Christine de Pisan.

This music came to life as a result of many forces: artistic, spiritual, pragmatic, physical, psychic, poetic, and interpersonal. In a visual sense, the piece begins in the space of the outer panels, with muted colors and dank interiors. Subsequent sections explore the inner panels, full of light, showing people from all walks of life. With Edge of Night, the piece returns to the mysterious and darker panels of the Arrival, where Van Eyck’s Gabriel and Mary play out this mystery for all eternity.

Very special thanks to Wim Wabbes of Handelsbeurs for staying with me through the long process of getting this piece made. Thanks to Keller Coker for talking me through the matrix of Dufay. Thanks to Tyler McDiarmid for being available to go through the countless sound and tech issues as they arose. Thanks to all the musicians for your patience, persistence, and belief in me. Thanks also to my entire family of loved ones, friends, colleagues, correspondents. We hung together through this and we will always have each other eternally. I am grateful for this most of all.

Dave Douglas, New York, August 2021


released April 1, 2022

Dave Douglas, trumpet, voice
Berlinde Deman, serpent, tuba, voice
Marta Warelis, piano, prepared piano, pump organ
Frederik Leroux, guitars, lute, electronics
Tomeka Reid, cello
Lander Gyselinck, drums, electronics

Production Credits:
Executive Producer: Dave Douglas
Produced by Dave Douglas
Recorded separately by each musician between May 2020 and August 2021
Berlinde Deman vocals recorded by Koen Gisen in Ghent, Belgium
Tomeka Reid recorded by Ralph Loza, Experimental Sounds Studios, Chicago
Marta Warelis piano recorded by Jasper Stadhouders at Splendor, Amsterdam
Ms. Warelis pump organ recorded by Marielle Groven at Orgelpark, Amsterdam

Edited and Mixed by Tyler McDiarmid and Dave Douglas
Mastered by Tyler McDiarmid
Altarpiece Photography / Images courtesy Sint-Baafskathedraal Gent,, Dominique Provost
Graphic design by Lukas Frei

All compositions and arrangements by Dave Douglas (Dave Douglas Music / BMI)
Commissioned by Handelsbeurs Concert hall (Gent, Belgium), in co production with KAAP/Concertgebouw Brugge; Jazzfest Berlin; November Music. With the additional support of the City of Ghent and Baloise Insurance.

"Douglas clearly believes in the power of prayer, and Secular Psalms goes so far as to answer his own invocation for a better world."
- The Big Takeover

"Dave Douglas and his acolytes deliver a lyrical, mystical and spiritual score full of cheerful optimism."
- Radio France

"Sculpted with total commitment and artistic imagination, this richly layered offering is far from your traditional jazz record, but deserves to be singled out for the musical characteristics achieved."
- Jazz Trail ★★★★

"This is an elegant mix of medieval, classical, and modern jazz music, and the combination is as mysterious as it is swinging. ... It is definitely a high point of 2022."
- Best of Jazz

"Douglas fans can rest assured that it will stand out as one of his most accomplished [recordings]."
- PopMatters 8/10

"Contemporary flourishes surface on every track. ... The 10-part work comes together, which is a tribute to Douglas’s strength of vision."
- Financial Times

"Another brilliant chapter in Douglas' already very impressive catalog."
- Nettavisen

"Go ahead—try to keep up with the musical imagination and restlessness of Dave Douglas, I dare you."
- PopMatters

“This is a major and important work in which Douglas has integrated very successfully various sounds and textures … to create a very fitting tribute to an important work of art.”
- LondonJazz News

"This isn’t religious music, exactly; it doesn’t take traditional hymnlike forms, but on a piece like “Agnus Dei,” Reid’s cello surges, with Leroux’s guitar and Warelis’s piano providing support as Deman sings softly, with Douglas harmonizing like a soft echo, barely audible beside her. His voice on the trumpet, by contrast, is fierce and powerful."
- Stereogum

"The album stands out in the trumpeter's oeuvre not only because it's an amazing collection of music and performances but also because ... the songs, messages, and instrumental experimentation gives the listener deep insight into the trumpeter's inner life."
- Step Tempest

"This album is filled with truly stunning interludes of beauty and intensity."
- Bandcamp Daily

"'Edge Of Night,' … artfully pairs Deman’s rich tenor with the distorted low-end bowing of Tomeka Reid’s cello to create the nocturnal atmosphere of its title."
- Downbeat


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Dave Douglas New York, New York

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


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