Bassist extraordinaire Dave Holland believes that like fine wine, music shouldn't be unbottled before its time. Holland and his highly regarded quintet spent a year and a half honing and retooling the music on their new album until it reached the point he calls "critical mass, where "it has become what it's going to be.
That patience, care and commitment to getting things right is evident throughout Critical Mass. This is the work of a working band, a group with five distinct, creative personalities that's been together almost in its entiretywith the exception of new drummer Nate Smithfor nearly a decade. Under Holland's generous leadership, each member of the quintet gets plenty of room to solo and contribute his own ideas to the mix. Each also contributes an original composition, to go along with four from Holland.
The result is some of the most exciting, serious jazz around, a superbly crafted mix of the mainstream and the avant-garde, the cerebral and the swinging. From Holland's hypnotic, Middle Eastern-influenced "Secret Garden to the exploratory funk of Robin Eubanks' "Full Circle, the group exhibits impressive passion, cohesion and sense of adventure. In a band filled with stars, Chris Potter stands out for his tour de force saxophone work, weaving edgy, serpentine lines above Eubanks' steady, more laid-back trombone. Longtime Holland cohort Steve Nelson again shines on vibes and marimba; Nelson wrote the album's most challenging tune, the evocative "Amator Silenti.
Dave Holland turned sixty in October, and while he's had notable collaborations over the past four decades, his own working band may be his greatest legacy.
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