The Dave Holland Big Band: Overtime (2005)
Senior Contributor since 1997A former newspaper writer / editor who has been writing about big-band Jazz for more than fifteen years.
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What does one do when his initial album as a big-band leader sweeps up almost every award in sight and rockets straight to the top of the best-seller list? If he's bassist Dave Holland, he goes back to the drawing board and works Overtime to make sure his second one is not only as good as but in some ways even better than the first. Having listened closely, this reviewer's candid appraisal is "mission accomplished."
More than fifty minutes of Overtime is devoted to Holland's four-part Monterey Suite, the second movement of which he introduces with a two and one-half minute a cappella solo. The suite is marked by enchanting melodies and lively rhythms, much like Gerald Wilson's Suite for Monterey, but unlike Wilson's, it isn't based on a single overarching theme. For comparison's sake, Holland's music sounds much like what one might hear from the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra or a more straight-ahead and accessible version of the Mingus Big Band. Maria Schneider also springs to mind, but from what I've heard so far I would say that her arrangements don't swing as freely or as often as Holland's.
Holland also wrote and arranged the diaphanous "Ario"? and shuffling "Last Minute Man,"? while trombonist Robin Eubanks did likewise for the album's other selection, "Mental Images,"? a passionate pirouette with intrepid solos by Holland, Robin Eubanks, Steve Nelson (marimba) and brother Duane Eubanks (trumpet). Trombonist Jonathan Arons and alto Mark Gross are front and center on "Ario," Duane Eubanks and trombonist Josh Roseman on "Minute Man."
To me, the Monterey Suite's pinnacle is the sensuous ballad "A Time Remembered"? (decorous solos courtesy of trumpeter Alex Sipiagin and baritone Gary Smulyan), but others are sure to have their own favorite moments, as each section yields its own recompense. Antonio Hart's soprano sax charts a blistering course on the fast-moving "Happy Jammy,"? Robin Eubanks and tenor Chris Potter burn rubber on the bustling "Bring It On,"? and Holland, Potter, Nelson and drummer Billy Kilson are the eager combatants in a spirited "Free for All."?
I was pleasantly surprised by Holland's first big-band album, which was far more straightforward than anticipated, and am even more gladdened by this one, which embodies more of the same and proves clearly, if any doubt remained, that Holland is a formidable big-band composer/arranger. Sound quality is excellent, playing time a generous 78:44. Easily recommended.
Dave Holland's fledgling Dare2 Records label is being distributed in North America by Sunnyside Records and elsewhere in the world by Universal Music Jazz France.
Track Listing: The Monterey Suite (Bring It On / Free for All / A Time Remembered / Happy Jammy); Ario; Mental Images; Last Minute Man (78:44).
Personnel: Holland (leader, bass); Alex Sipiagin, Duane Eubanks, Taylor Haskins (trumpet, flugelhorn); Antonio Hart (alto and soprano sax, flute); Mark Gross (alto sax); Chris Potter (tenor sax); Gary Smulyan (baritone sax); Robin Eubanks, Josh Roseman, Jonathan Arons, trombone; Steve Nelson, vibes, marimba; Billy Kilson, drums.