433

Dave Holland Quintet: Prime Directive

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
During the 1980s jazz was still recovering from the decimation that had taken place the previous decade. The vast wasteland and dead-end streets that fusion and "lite jazz" had left was beginning to turn a tide with the renaissance movement being ushered in by Wynton Marsalis. Unbeknownst to only a select jazz crowd, bassist Dave Holland was nailing solid mainstream jazz to the wall with the great series of albums he would lead for ECM, beginning with 1983's Jumpin' In. Working with such masters as Kenny Wheeler, Steve Coleman, Marvin "Smitty" Smith, and later with Kevin Eubanks, Holland would leave a smoldering trail of classic albums in his wake.

The proceeding is to suggest that while the jazz world is indeed grateful for Holland's continued prominence and regular recording activity, somehow his most recent affairs just don't seem to have the same freshness and titillation as we seemed to find in such gems as Seeds of Time, The Razor's Edge, and Extensions. Of his most recent ECM dates, Prime Directive is certainly the strongest of the lot, but it too can suffer at times from a nagging sense of one-dimensionality. The opening title cut is indicative of Holland's modus operandi, with lots of dense collective improvisation over a bass vamp before yielding to a string of individual solos. "Looking Up" throws everything into the pot, starting with an odd-metered head that eventually settles into a waltz tempo, only to then be spelled by an up swing tempo in four.

Clearly vibraphone/marimba man Steve Nelson is the ringer here, as he advances a stability and subtle harmonic movement to an artistic selection of originals by Holland, Robin Eubanks, Billy Kilson, Chris Potter, and Nelson himself. The rich and "woody" timbre he lends on marimba melds beautifully with Holland's deep bass, abundantly so on the lively "Jugglers Parade." Of course, Potter and Eubanks get in their dibs as well, effortlessly retorting passages during the middle section of "Wonders Never Cease."

Drummer Kilson has struck this reviewer as a curious choice since his first induction into the Holland band. Obviously more of a funk and fusion drummer than a mainstream jazzer, he can at times overplay. Maybe Holland finds this quality akin to "Smitty" Smith's style, but somehow the latter just seems to be a more musical player. Putting reservations aside though, this is probably Holland's strongest band since the early ECM quintet. And in addition, there's no doubting the authenticity of the music presented here, it's just a bit long- winded in spots.

Track Listing: Prime Directive, Looking Up, Make Believe, A Seeking Spirit, High Wire, Jugglers Parade, Candlelight Vigil, Wonders Never Cease, Down Time (76:42)

Personnel: Dave Holland- bass; Chris Potter- soprano, alto, & tenor saxophones; Robin Eubanks- trombone; Steve Nelson- vibes & marimba; Billy Kilson- drums

| Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Rags And Roots CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Tangled CD/LP/Track Review Tangled
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Is It Me...? CD/LP/Track Review Is It Me...?
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 25, 2017
Read 14.11.2016 CD/LP/Track Review 14.11.2016
by Nicola Negri
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Malnoia CD/LP/Track Review Malnoia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 24, 2017
Read "Jaco Pastorius" CD/LP/Track Review Jaco Pastorius
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: October 17, 2016
Read "Collectables" CD/LP/Track Review Collectables
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 2, 2016
Read "Aquarelle" CD/LP/Track Review Aquarelle
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 7, 2017
Read "Some Other Time" CD/LP/Track Review Some Other Time
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 21, 2016
Read "Momentum" CD/LP/Track Review Momentum
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 18, 2016
Read "Don't Try You Are" CD/LP/Track Review Don't Try You Are
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: May 10, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!