Dave Holland Extended Play - Live at Birdland Review

Live. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

Bassist Dave Holland's wonderful quintet stretch out in this stunning double live set.

Peter Marsh 2002

It's probably not adding much to the sum total of human knowledge to say that Dave Holland's current band are one of the most accomplished and exciting acoustic jazzoutfits on the planet.In fact, they're so good it's quite difficult to know what to write about them anymore;you almost wish they'd put a foot wrong occasionally. No such luck.

This record was made partly as a response to public demand and from a need to document the band's stretched out, exploratorylive sets.Consequently there's little here that clocks in at less than 15 minutes or so. While that may seem a bit excessive, what we have here is a band that seems incapable of being dull.

While it's Holland's band in name, writing credits and solo opportunities are spread evenly. The front line of sax, vibes and trombone may strike some as unconventional, but to say it works would be a bit of an understatement; more than sum of their parts, indeed.

Holland and drummer Billy Kilson inject even the most obscure time signatures with irresistible élan anda deep, funky precision. Kilson is unstoppable, sending the crowd into ecstacies with furious, timestretching eruptions that somehow always end precisely where they should, while the bassist gives his usual mix of flawless timekeeping and wiry, muscular lyricism.

Steve Nelson adds extra percussive flair with urgent marimba ripples, or supports and comments with sweetly ringing vibes chords. Robin Eubanks simply has to be one of the most agile, expressive and precise trombonists around today, while Chris Potter's facility on soprano, tenor and alto connects with all sorts of saxophone traditions; one moment he's in garrulous Sonny Rollins mode, the next he's darting around with the quizzical grace of Wayne Shorter.

The same goes for the music; all kinds of jazz traditions are hinted at, from Mingus to M-Base.Despite being forever tagged as Miles Davis' discovery, Holland, like Jarrett, Hancock, Zawinul et al, has made his own place in jazz history, and this band is as state of the art as it gets.Unmissable.

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