Although it may not quite approach the grandeur and sonority of his ‘80s ensemble with Kenny Wheeler and Marvin “Smitty” Smith, bassist Dave Holland’s current group continues to show promise in the light of their most recent editions for ECM. While drummer Billy Kilson still seems just a tad too busy for this reviewer, Steve Nelson’s vibes add a shimmering quality to the quintet’s work that had been missing previously. And it should go without saying that Chris Potter is simply one of the finest players of his generation, flanked nicely on the front line by trombonist Robin Eubanks.
Behind the scenes of Not For Nothin’ it should be known that this vital music was produced at a time when Holland was suffering the recent loss of his son. It is a celebration of life then that runs through the proceedings like a thread. “Global Citizen” kicks in first with its sanguine tone and odd meter, Nelson’s vibes adding the Eastern tonalities that hint at the piece’s title. “Lost and Found,” “Billows of Rhythm,” and the title track are similar explorations in the type of rock-inflected grooves that have been part and parcel of the Holland approach for some time now. On the other end of the spectrum, such pretty moments come into play during “Shifting Sands” and “Go Fly a Kite.” And just to show that they can swing in straight ahead fashion, the closing “Cosmosis” jams on its “Moments Notice” structure with a vengeance.
If there were but one reservation here, it would have to be the length of the disc, clocking in at way over an hour. It’s a lot to digest in one sitting, but then again, I guess that’s why your CD player has all those programming possibilities. In smaller doses, there’s much to enjoy here and long time Holland devotees will find this to be one of his best in recent years.