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REVIEW Dave Holland Quintet

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Tuesday June 08, 2010

(From Jazz Police)

Written by Marrio Carrington
Thursday, 03 June 2010

The first show of a two night engagement by the Dave Holland Quintet at the Dakota in downtown Minneapolis was exceptional and should be considered an appointment concert for one of the two remaining performances at 7pm or 9:30pm on Wednesday, June 2. The Quintet is composed of Dave Holland on bass, Steve Nelson on vibes, Robin Eubanks on trombone, Chris Potter on sax and Nate Smith on drums. There is no need to go in search of excellence as it is on full display with this extraordinary band that has been together for 13 years.

In Holland’s native United Kingdom, there is the awe inspiring Stonehenge. How did the boulders get there? Who put them in that formation? Are they all that remain from the river that may have flowed through there thousands of years ago? Is it a former landing area for aliens? After walking around awhile you just come to accept Stonehenge as one of the wonders of the world. Just like the Dave Holland Quintet.

This sublime band of Holland’s is unquestionably the most wondrous quintet currently performing in jazz and their virtuosity is nonpareil. The musicality of their individual improvisations— which were impressive— was surpassed by their collective simultaneous improvisations that defined harmonic rapture. Compositions were played from several albums and genius was in display all evening. Two of the songs written by Holland were worth the price of admission by themselves—“How’s Never?” from his latest (octet) release, Pathways, and “Prime Directive” from the album of the same name.

The band members were having fun on stage as they were enjoying each others’ performances (smiles of appreciation, nods of acknowledgment, wide-eyed amazement) as much as the audience. Potter is sensational, Nelson is ethereal, Eubanks is fantastic and Smith is fabulous. The manner in which Holland orchestrates his band is ultra cool and you could easily imagine him playing the part of the most interesting man in the world in those Dos Equis beer commercials—“stay musical, my friends.”

I’m not sure what the criteria is for being knighted in England but Holland surely must be given serious consideration. If the standards include significant contributions in your field, give him a check for having played in the bands of Miles Davis as he entered his epochal electric phase (see “In A Silent Way,” “Bitches Brew”). If it’s versatility, give Holland a check mark for being able to contribute mightily as a sideman or leader in a trio, quartet, quintet, sextet, septet, octet and big band format in his career thus far. If it’s for achieving master status in your chosen profession, continuing to evolve and bringing joy to countless fans around the world for a sustained period of time, give him another check. Sir Dave Holland fits, and if a write-in effort is needed, let’s start a Betty White-style Facebook campaign.

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