Dave Holland: Pathways (2010)

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Dave Holland: Pathways
Bassist Dave Holland's main creative vehicle has long been the Dave Holland Quintet, but in recent years he's launched a number of other groups, tweaking and expanding instrumentation while preserving something of the quintet's signature sound. On Pathways, recorded live at Birdland in 2009, Holland takes another detour with the Dave Holland Octet, which splits the difference between his quintet and big band in terms of size, texture and orchestrated thrust.

Incidentally, Holland switched from ECM Records to his own Dare2 label in 2005 and the somber green and blue hues of his ECM album art have given way to Dare2's whimsical shapes and bright neons. But the music has remained consistently biting, a stew of stripped-down harmony and off-centered rhythmic attack that is well represented here.

Holland augments his core lineup—trombonist Robin Eubanks
Robin Eubanks
Robin Eubanks
b.1955
trombone
, saxophonist Chris Potter
Chris Potter
Chris Potter
b.1971
reeds
, vibraphonist Steve Nelson
Steve Nelson
Steve Nelson

vibraphone
and drummer Nate Smith
Nate Smith
Nate Smith
b.1974
drums
—with three additional horns. The first to be prominently featured is baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan
Gary Smulyan
Gary Smulyan
b.1956
sax, baritone
, who handles the main melody and first solo of the lead-off title track and returns on the lush, slow minor blues "Blue Jean." Altoist Antonio Hart
Antonio Hart
Antonio Hart
b.1968
saxophone
channels Maceo Parker on Holland's "How's Never," a limping funk tune from the bassist's mid-'90s Gateway repertoire. Trumpeter Alex Sipiagin
Alex Sipiagin
Alex Sipiagin
b.1967
trumpet
contributes "Wind Dance," one of the set's most fulfilling pieces, rich in counterpoint and flute flourishes (via Hart). Potter's "Sea of Marmara," the other non-Holland highlight, weaves in dreamy atmospherics with soprano sax and muted trumpet.

Holland's writing tends to be punchy, vampy and bass line-driven and "Shadow Dance," the big sendoff, is a good specimen. Also figuring into Holland's big band repertoire, the tune has moments that subtly echo Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
's "Caravan." In a recent blog post, Holland cited the Ellington small groups as a key influence, so the shoe fits.

Track Listing: Pathways; How's Never?; Sea of Marmara; Ebb and Flow; Blue Jean; Wind Dance; Shadow Dance.

Personnel: Dave Holland: bass; Chris Potter: tenor and soprano saxophones; Robin Eubanks: trombone; Steve Nelson: vibraphone, marimba; Nate Smith: drums; Antonio Hart: alto saxophone, flute; Alex Sipiagin: trumpet, flugelhorn; Gary Smulyan: baritone saxophone.

Record Label: Dare2 Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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