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Dave Holland: Points of View

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The eight compositions which make up Points of View are so varied that this in itself becomes a hallmark of Dave Holland's style here. Consistency instead comes from the interaction of the players, whom Holland's arrangements give ensemble roles during each other's solos; from the unusual instrumentation, used both for frank exoticism ("Bedouin Trail", "Serenade") and to leaven more traditional compositions with surprise. The soloists are imaginative, and swinging on those tunes where swing is part of the picture. Holland and Kilson power the ensemble, Holland with his rich tone, Kilson with clarity and a fine percussionist's melodic sense, both with impeccable time.

"The balance" seemingly begins with the sound of a bass tuning, as if for a live date, with the other players joining in with an improvised ensemble worthy of Mingus. The tune turns into a characteristic opener, but with a difference: swift and exciting, to be sure, but with a tricky time signature and a restlessness about settling on a major or minor mode.

"Mr. B" is like one of those great 1950's hard bop tunes seen through a post-modern prism, Holland playing a walking bass line throughout.

"Bedouin trail," beginning with Eubanks high on the trombone, almost a French horn sound, moves into a medium tempo clave groove. The virtues of Holland's group stand out in this sensous tune, which seems almost to suspend time.

"Metamorphosis" alternates rapidly between swing and funk, terms that don't do justice either to the edgy composition or the impassioned improvisations.

The rhythm section opens "Ario" with an ostinato feel, moving eventually into a Latin groove. As usual on this recording, the horn parts belie the small group size. Likewise the vibes' fills provide a bigger than usual sound in the percussive/chordal instrument's role: richer than a piano, fuller than a guitar. The track shifts between the mellowness of a medium-tempo ballad and a series of climaxes.

"Herbaceous" has a samba-then-swing feel, opened up by spontaneity and virtuosity of the ensemble, making for a tumultuous ride.

"The benevolent one" begins out of tempo as a duet between Nelson's ringing vibes and Holland's bowed bass, before turning into a ballad, with Kilson's brushes shimmering like aspen leaves. The rhythm section is nearly equal in the foreground during the solos, giving the tune a chamber-music intimacy

"Serenade" concludes the recording with a taste of Latin folk-music, the marimba trilling a simple melody over the initially unchanging harmony implied by Holland's repetitive bass figure. This track's optimistic serenity, played only by the rhythm section, creates yet another musical world among the several in this unusual and brilliantly realized production.


Track Listing: The balance; Mr. B; Bedouin trail; Metamorphos; Ario; Herbaceous; The benevolent one; Serenade

Personnel: Robin Eubanks, trombone; Steve Wilson, soprano and alto saxophone; Steve Nelson, vibraphone and marimba; Dave Holland, bass; Billy Kilson, drums

Title: Points of View | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: ECM Records


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