REVIEW: Dave Holland @ PDX Jazz (Portland, OR – 2/27/10)
I got into Dave Holland around the same time as a lot of other jazz. I got into jazz through the backdoor (John Zorn) and then slowly moved into the more straight ahead jazz. I think I can officially blame Ken Laster and his In the Groove, Jazz and Beyond podcast for playing a lot of Dave Holland. Anyway, shortly after hearing Holland, I picked up Extended Play: Live at Birdland and Critical Mass. Both are great, but the latter is quite fetching. When I found out he was one of the headliners at this year’s Portland Jazz Fest, I was stoked.
I was equally stoked that he’d be bringing saxophonist Chris Potter and drummer Nate Smith with him. I saw Chris & Nate play in Cincinnati a few years back, and I loved both of them but was quite entranced with Nate’s drumming. His flow and style are a sight to behold.
Well, on to the show…
I missed PDX Jazz Fest last year. I was deeply entrenched in busy season at work (I’m a CPA), and perhaps there wasn’t as big of a draw in 2009 as in 2008 (SF Jazz Collective and Ornette Coleman). 2010, well, that’s another story… as I ended up staying the night to catch two shows on Sunday, too (check back for the Pharoah Sanders and Dave Douglas’ Brass Ecstasy reviews on Monday). Anyway, no cameras allowed. I took a couple with my iPhone, but they didn’t come out all that well; so, yeah, I’m not posting them.
The band went on around 7:40pm after a short introduction. The band was Dave Holland on upright bass, the aforementioned Chris Potter (sax) and Nate Smith (drums), along with Alex Sipiagin on trumpet and Steve Nelson on vibes. The first thing I noted was how Dave’s bass really breathed. There’s a reason why he’s a heavyweight in the jazz world. His tone, his swing, his lyricism – all very prevalent.
They started off with “Step To It,” which started with Nate Smith drumming barehanded and featured a massive Chris Potter solo, and was capped off with a great gentle back and forth between Dave and Nate. Here’s how it all went down last night…
Setlist: 95 minutes
- Step To It
- Last Minute Men
- Looking Up
- Make Believe
- Free For All
- Encore: Easy Did It
“Cosmosis” and the encore “Easy Did It” both featured great Dave Holland solos. On “Free For All,” Nate Smith drum solo was quite playful. He was going all out, and actually lost one of his drumsticks amidst his free for all. I haven’t mentioned Alex or Steve yet… both were great, but didn’t seem to take as many solos as Chris or Nate. Alex’s few solos were superb. I love some good trumpet music (hence my Sunday plans for Dave Douglas). Steve’s vibe work was great, moreso as a back-up for the band (his solos didn’t do much for me). I think as far as a quintet goes, I’d opt for piano over vibes (especially with an already powerful drummer on the stage).
All in all, Dave Holland reaffirmed his place with me as a force to reckon with. They played over an hour and half, and it seemed like it was about 20 minutes. It totally flew by and was highly energetic. I hope he brings this band around sometime soon!
For photos from this and other PDX Jazz shows, check out PDX Jazz’s flickr stream:
Well, off to the next show, Damien Jurado across town at the Mississippi Studios…
The Appropriate Linkage:
- Dave Holland’s Site
- Dave Holland on MySpace
- PDX Jazz Fest
- PCPA – Newmark Theatre
- Oregon Music News‘s Review of the Shows on Saturday