Dave Holland's Prism
July 10, 2014
In jazz, forming a new group gives the possibility of finding a new musical expression, but it can also be a way of returning to one's musical roots. In the case of bassist Dave Holland
's group Prism, it is actually both of these things. The group has brought Holland back in touch with the electrifying fusion that he created with trumpeter Miles Davis
on such legendary records as In a Silent Way
(Columbia, 1969) and Bitches Brew
(Columbia, 1970), but the music also reflects the many-sided aesthetic interests of the participating musicians: guitarist Kevin Eubanks
, pianist Craig Taborn
and drummer Eric Harland
. This is evident on the album Prism
(Dare2, 2013) and was also shown when the group played an intense concert at Copenhagen Jazzhouse.
Holland was clearly in a good mood and smiled throughout the concert and there was also much to be happy about. It was clear that he enjoyed the tight musical communication in the group. He was placed in the middle of the scene and was the center of attention, but this was just scenography. At heart, the group is a democratic constellation and this was underlined by a set list with contributions from all members.
The concert evolved as a journey in sound with delicate explorations of texture, hypnotic grooves and instrumental explosions. Everyone brought something to the music that reflected their personalities. Taborn's advanced sense of time and harmony was showcased on "The True Meaning of Determination" and his crystalline tone graced the reading of Harland's abstract ballad "Breathe," with plenty of space and almost no accompaniment from the composer.
Throughout the concert, Harland underlined how versatile a player he is. He changed between propulsive grooves, advanced swing, progressive breaks and subtle coloration. Eubanks was just as diverse. It wasn't surprising that he was capable of powerful riffing and intense rocking, but the subdued experimental textures that he provided at times brought him closer to Bill Frisell
than John McLaughlin
. A highlight from the concert was his composition "Evolution" that was almost a portrait of the group, a musical metamorphosis embracing abstract sound painting, a solid groove and progressive rock.
Holland anchored all the different sounds with his soulful playing and organic bass patterns. His woody sound was the perfect contrast to the electrified outbursts from Eubanks while Taborn changed between piano and Fender Rhodes. As a group, Prism showed itself capable of going in all directions. There was clearly a love of progressive rock and fusion, but the music wasn't nostalgic at all. This was contemporary music with plenty of personality.