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Dave Holland / Gonzalo Rubalcaba / Chris Potter / Eric Harland: The Monterey Quartet: Live at the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival

Mark Corroto By

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Supergroups thrown together for jazz festivals are, as a general rule, a disappointment. The chemistry of a regular working unit is usually missing, and they tend to resort to "theme-solo-theme" weariness. Not so when the supergroup is made up of dedicated composers and listeners such as The Monterey Quartet, assembled on the occasion of Monterey's 50th anniversary celebration concerts in 2007.

Bassist Dave Holland, together with two familiar players—Chris Potter and Eric Harland—are joined by the Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. In a quartet setting, each player carries equal weight both on playing and, in this case, composing. Each contributes two tunes to this live date.

The audience picks up on the high energy level from the start. The musicians are encouraged to push the envelope throughout, gaining momentum as each song is played. This is definitely not a blowing session, each player remains engaged, urging the music into the stratosphere.

Harland, a Wynton Marsalis disciple, has recently held the drum chair in Charles Lloyd's bands, working regularly with the Indian tablaist Zakir Hussain. His energy is most apparent here. Together with Holland they propel (maybe launch is a better word) the pairing of Potter and Rubalcaba on the bassist's "Step On It." Likewise Rubalcaba's "50," a funky dash-and-dart piece, oozes pure effervescence. The pianist plays with a bluesy swing that goes toe-to-toe with Harlan.

The proof, though, is in the slower pieces, the Rubalcaba's bolero "Otra Mirada" and Harlan's "Maiden," where the music relaxes into appreciable bits. The interplay is more assumed and consumed. Potter's tenor rises to each occasion.

This assembled supergroup could be—no, should be—a working band. Well done.


Track Listing: Treachery; Minotaur; Otra Mirada; Step To It; Maiden; 50; Veil Of Tears; Spoken Introduction; Ask Me Why.

Personnel: Dave Holland: bass; Gonzalo Rubalcaba: piano; Chris Potter: tenor saxophone; Eric Harland: drums.

Title: The Monterey Quartet: Live at the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Monterey Jazz Festival Records


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