Dave Holland Octet vs. Mother Nature

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Tuesday September 06, 2011

From JazzTimes

Detroit Jazz Festival, Day Two: Dave Holland, Jason Moran, Christian McBride & … Mother Nature!
By: Russ Davis

I was asked by the folks who run the Detroit Jazz Festival to get a little more involved with the various features of the festival this year including being part of the streaming television feature JAZZ, interviewing artists under the JAZZ TALK TENT, and introducing artists as emcee of some of the live shows. I was honored to have been asked and thrilled to contribute. There is one trade off involved in this though, and that is that I spent most of Saturday, day two of the 32nd’ Detroit Jazz Festival, working on these projects kept me from seeing some of the performances on this blazing hot sunny afternoon.

I missed the Brazilian duo of vocalist Luciana Souza and guitarist Romero Lubambo (luckily I’d seen them in Montreal and they are incredibly charming and supremely musical), up and coming young vibes master Warren Wolf and his back WOLFPAC, trumpeter Sean Jones and Detroiters Geri Allen & Robert Hurst with the University of Michigan Jazz Ensemble. I was willing to give up these performances to be part of the other efforts as I most certainly am willing to give back to a festival that has given me so much joy in the past and offers so much more for the present and future. After all, I was all set to introduce the performance by Jason Moran and his band Bandwagon as well as taking in shows by Sun Ra Arkestra, world-jazz pioneers Mandrill and the great Dave Holland and his Octet to top off the evening. That’s until a certain power that is, Mother Nature, stepped in to remind us all that She’s still in charge of things! A massive storm swept through the area with 60 MPG winds, hail, thunder, lightening and incredible rain that washed out the evening’s shows.

Not to be discouraged, Dave Holland decided to take his set to the indoors at the lobby bar of the home base hotel for the festival, the enormous Marriott at Renaissance Center. It was an impromptu event that was only witnessed by those who happened to be walking through the lobby at 10:30 PM. Unfortunately I was not one of them and was not alerted but by all accounts the show was inspired.

As Mike Stratton, the great writer and radio presenter from the area wrote:

“We didn’t want to leave Detroit until we’d played some music for you,” said Holland after the band’s first tune, which started around 10:30 p.m. The Octet is made up of some of the best voices in jazz on their respective instruments: Steve Nelson on vibes (one of several stellar vibraphonists to grace the DJF this year), Nate Smith on drums, Gary Smulyan on baritone sax, Robin Eubanks on trombone, Alex “Sasha” Sipiagin on trumpet, Chris Potter on tenor and soprano sax, Antonio Hart on alto sax and Dave Holland himself on bass. The band opened with Pathway, the title track from their album, and they went on to perform several tracks from that album. Working superbly with form and structure, the unit both grooves and swings, the horns engaging in call and response, the rhythmic tension and release that is nearly carnal in its dynamics. Each player got ample solo space, though Antonio Hart’s snaky recitation built to a thunderous crescendo that gained a huge ovation from a well-lubricated audience. Nate Smith’s start/stop funky solo, playing with time, also got the audience’s approval. And Chris Potter brought down the house with his powerful musicianship.

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