Dave Holland Sextet: Pass It On (2008)
It may not be correct to state the music of Dave Holland has matured. With the bassist's latest outing, he takes time away from the Dave Holland Big Band to record his current working sextet that plays music much like a very small big band.
This new lineup replaces vibraphonist Steve Nelson with pianist Mulgrew Miller, and adds trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, from Holland's Big Band. From his now infamous Quintet Holland retains trombonist/composer Robin Eubanks and swaps drummer Eric Harland for Nate Smith and Antonio Hart who has often been heard playing in live editions of the Quintetfor Chris Potter.
Perhaps it's Miller that gives this session its more orchestrated feeling. Holland, who has grown by leaps and bounds with his arrangements for big band, guides this very tight band through its paces on nine pieces that include six he recorded with his other groups from as long ago as 1984. On "Double Vision," last heard on Seeds Of Time (ECM 1985), Holland pulls together what was originally a sparse composition that he previously left open for altoist Steve Coleman, trombonist Julian Priester, and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler to improvise and solo on, into a tightly arranged burner. He effectively fills in the empty spaces with players, but still allows for some giant solos. Eubanks takes a monster solo here, pushing the temperature of the composition way past the boiling point.
The band plays with a effortless elegance on "Equality," a perfect vehicle for Hart. The piece has mellowed a bit from Dream Of The Elders (ECM, 1996), but Hart's saxophone burns with a quiet subtle intensity, as Holland dresses up the composition with a finely orchestrated accompaniment. Holland blends the three horns perfectly again on "Modern Times," making this complex and tight orchestration seem simple.
Fans of Dave Holland with appreciate the arc of his music, from electric Miles to free jazz, his Brooklyn connection, and finally to this very tightly orchestrated 21st century traditional jazz. Maybe matured is not the correct word for Holland; maybe ripened better describes his music.
Track Listing: The Sum Of All Parts; Fast Track; Lazy Snake; Double Vision; Equality; Modern Times; Rivers Run; Processional; Pass It On.
Personnel: Dave Holland: bass; Eric Harland: drums; Antonio Hart: alto saxophone; Robin Eubanks: trombone; Mulgrew Miler: piano; Alex Sipiagin: trumpet.
Record Label: Dare2 Records