Thursday, September 5, 2013

Doug Wamble

 A one-man compendium of avant-Americana. The New Yorker

As a child of Memphis, TN, Doug Wamble has always been surrounded by a vast musical and cultural landscape. From listening to his mother play piano in their Baptist church to his grandfather singing cowboy songs, murder ballads and old time gospel favorites while strumming his guitar, Doug has been immersed in music for his entire life.

After completing two music degrees, Doug decided to head to New York to seek a career as a guitarist and composer.  Appearing on bandstands and recordings with such jazz greats as Wynton Marsalis, Cassandra Wilson and Branford Marsalis,  and pop artists such as Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux and Courtney Love, Doug was making a name for himself as a guitarist when he was signed to Marsalis Music/Universal Records, started by Branford Marsalis.  Doug released two critically acclaimed records Country Libations, and Bluestate, which focused not only on his guitar abilities, but on his compositions and soulful vocals. Touring all over the world, Doug has performed as a bandleader at festivals and clubs, and opened for acts such as Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall, Madeleine Peyroux, Branford Marsalis, and the Indigo Girls. As a composer, Doug has been commissioned by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Chamber Music America and has recently composed portions of the original scores for renowned documentary filmmaker Ken Burns on his films "The Tenth Inning" and "Prohibition."  Most recently, Doug composed the entire score for "The Central Park Five," directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon. This film will be in theatres later this year, and on PBS in 2013.

Much like entering the world of film scoring, becoming a singer/songwriter was never something Wamble had considered, but upon delving into this new direction, he found that something resonated with him. "I had self-identified as a jazz musician for so long that it was strange at first to put that aesthetic aside and refocus my energies into music that did not draw from that tradition." But doing so has led Wamble to reconnect with the roots of Memphis music, gospel, and Delta blues in a whole new way. "It is not meant to be an either/or situation," Wamble says. "I have spent far too much of my life listening to and playing jazz music. But it is merely one part of what I do. I enjoy delving into the craft of songwriting and finding ways to still keep my influences intact without detracting from the song. And if it helps the song to have some blazing guitar solos, that is cool, too!"

Doug's first effort in this new direction was released in 2010, simply titled Doug Wamble. Produced by acclaimed producer Lee Townsend and featuring guest appearances by Charlie Hunter, Steven Bernstein, and Jonah Smith, Doug wrote a stunning collection of songs that drew from his expansive palette of American musical traditions, and closed with a stirring cover of Fiona Apple's "I Know."

Doug Wamble Trio featuring Charlie Hunter and Bernard "Pretty" Purdie 
live at the Iridium Club NYC July 17, 2010

Doug has three upcoming releases on deck for the coming months. First is his self-produced album, "Fast As Years, Slow As Days" which features 11 new original songs with Doug playing all the instruments himself, except for two guest drummers Adrian Harpham, and Aaron Comess on a few select tracks, as well as Joe Kwon of The Avett Brothers on cello. Doug has also recorded "For Anew" which is a stripped down acoustic record with no overdubs, just 14 new songs with voice, guitar and some foot stomping. Finally, "The Traveler" is a new song cycle commissioned by Jazz at Lincoln Center and was recorded live in the stunning Allen Room overlooking Central Park. This will be Doug's first jazz-oriented project since 2005.