Drawing a musical map clarifies the lineage of bands and places them in history. Dave Holland’s Quintet can be traced directly to Miles Davis’ ‘second great quintet’ of Davis/Shorter/Carter/Hancock/Williams. In 1968, Holland, then a young bassist of 21 years, was playing with former Miles Davis pianist Bill Evans and future Davis drummer Jack DeJohnette. Miles asked him to replace the departing Ron Carter. Holland’s tenure with Miles (and Evans) bridged both post-bop modal music and jazz-fusion. He later left Miles to pursue a kind of free-jazz in the band Circle with Chick Corea, Anthony Braxton, and Barry Altschul. When Holland formed his current quintet in 1997, its direct reference to Miles’ ‘second great quintet’ could not be overlooked. Although the instrumentation is radically different, the group concept is indistinguishable. Like Tony Williams, drummer Billy Kilson is the foundation and engine that drives this quintet. His jazz drumming draws liberally from rock, soul, and funk to open the possibilities of their music. Like Davis’ band, there is no apparent leader with each musician alternately directing or supporting each other. Not For Nothin’
builds upon the success of last year’s Prime Directive
with nine tracks of structured possibilities. Each musician adds compositions to this recording. Kilson’s “Billows Of Rhythm” features a plethora of time changes and a furious saxophone solo by Chris Potter. Holland’s “Shifting Sands” begins with Steve Nelson on marimba and goes on to massage a softer vibe. Where this band excels is in the freedom these tight compositions allow. Trombonist Robin Eubank’s “Global Citizen” is a tight post-bop rhythm piece that opens with the band working the theme into an open structure for soloists.
Holland’s quintet, like Miles Davis’ band of the mid-sixties, delivers an unassailable package of studio recordings. These recording merely hint at the genius of this quintet in a live setting. Perhaps Mr. Eicher at ECM will take his recording equipment on the road to catch this band as it stretches out on some of these excellent tunes.