The Dave Holland Quintet

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Columbus, Ohio
November 4, 2000

Why is this man smiling? Not me, but Dave Holland as he took the stage at Ohio State University’s Weigel Hall. Actually me too, after his short bass solo introduction to “The Balance,” the lead track on his 1998 ECM release Points Of View. The bassist, with band in formation, laid down long lines of sound, with each musician alternately soloing and adding textures to the passage. Holland kept his eyes on drummer Billy Kilson for the opener (as did much of the audience) as Kilson acted as the locomotive engine behind the soloists. The drummer sped up and slowed the activity coaxing the soloists to climb the proverbial mountain.
Holland as a musician seems to always be a couple of steps ahead of the current musical trends. Playing with Evan Parker and Kenny Wheeler just out of his teens, he was asked to join Miles Davis’ band in 1967. You’ll recall Davis’ In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew weren’t exactly embraced upon their initial release. When Holland and the electric Miles parted, he formed Circle with Chick Corea, Anthony Braxton and Barry Altschul. Whether he plays free jazz or more inside music, the bassist is always moving ahead of his time, be it with Sam Rivers, or Brooklyn’s M-BASE musicians Steve Coleman and Robin Eubanks. Like his mentor Miles Davis, Holland has always set the trend, rather than follow one.
Holland’s latest incarnation, his piano-less quintet, released the aforementioned Points Of View and last year’s Prime Directive and the bassist announced his quintet has recently recorded a third, yet untitled, disc to be released next summer. Wise decision to stick with what works. His quintet is founded around exceptional group players and intellectual soloists. Without the structure provided by the piano, it seems the melody and timekeeping are the province of the bassist. Their second selection, a new song “Cause-mosis” kept Holland smiling at Kilson’s drum antics. The animated drummer plays whole-body music, here taking a very Max Roach-like solo. Kilson, a crowd favorite, prefers swapping tones and switching the palates of beats to maintaining a straight cadence. Kilson isn ’t the headliner, but he’s definitely the heart behind this group.
Replacing regular Chris Potter was saxophonist Antonio Hart. While disappointed not to hear the much-talked about Potter, Antonio Hart filled in nicely. His soprano saxophone playing might not match Potter’s, but on alto he works well. On “Make Believe” and the new track, “What Goes Around,” his blues feel was a perfect foil to the bands long lines and Kilson’s relentless attack.

The new writing by the quintet like “What Goes Around,” perhaps the best song of the show, has Kilson messing with the time and energy of the music. Vibraphonist Steve Nelson plays what could be a Philip Glass repetitive line as trombonist Robin Eubanks takes an overtly muscular solo, emphasis on skittering power, with Hart blowing funk/blues figures. Holland holds the melody as Kilson once again steals the show with a furious solo.

Steve Nelson’s chamber jazz (drummer-less) piece “Candlelight Vigil” followed, with Holland bowing an atmospheric backdrop as Eubanks and Hart harmonized the melody. This lovely chamber piece could be the stuff of an entirely new ECM recording. Reminiscent of the thoughtful recent work of Dave Douglas, Holland’s band (sans Kilson) has another attractive direction to pursue.

The night ended with Dave Holland’s extended bass solo to start “Prime Directive.” Yes, this is what I had waited for. His bass work, although de-emphasized in this band is a wonder. Like his 1995 solo recording Ones All (Intuition), I could listen to Holland solo all day. His gift is that of perfect timing and patience. The band joined in for more group gymnastics, before exiting to a loud ovation. They returned to play “Shifting Sands” a new composition taken at mid-tempo. If the reactions of the crowd (and Holland’s apparent joy) are any indication, this will continue as a unit for quite some time to come.


More Articles

Read Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's Live Reviews Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's
by Mike Jacobs
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Vossajazz 2017 Live Reviews Vossajazz 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ Live Reviews Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: April 21, 2017
Read Lewis Nash and Steve Wilson at JazzNights Live Reviews Lewis Nash and Steve Wilson at JazzNights
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 18, 2017
Read Tallinn Music Week 2017 Live Reviews Tallinn Music Week 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: April 16, 2017
Read Bergamo Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Bergamo Jazz Festival 2017
by Francesco Martinelli
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Snarky Puppy at the Ogden Theater" Live Reviews Snarky Puppy at the Ogden Theater
by Geoff Anderson
Published: May 29, 2016
Read "Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2016
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: July 8, 2016
Read "Zbigniew Seifert Jazz Violin Competition 2016" Live Reviews Zbigniew Seifert Jazz Violin Competition 2016
by Martin Longley
Published: September 16, 2016
Read "Galway Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Galway Jazz Festival 2016
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "The Wood Brothers at Higher Ground" Live Reviews The Wood Brothers at Higher Ground
by Doug Collette
Published: February 10, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus


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!