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REVIEW: Dave Holland @ PDX Jazz (Portland, OR – 2/27/10)

28th Feb 10 (Sun) 5 comments

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
  • Cosmosis
  • 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:


(photos by Fran Kaufman)

Well, off to the next show, Damien Jurado across town at the Mississippi Studios

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Dave Douglas’ Brass Ecstasy – Spirit Moves

PDX Jazz Fest :: Dave Holland Quintet

2nd Feb 10 (Tue) Leave a comment

Well, the PDX Jazzfest in Portland, Oregon, is about 3 weeks away. You won’t want to miss it. There are many fantastic local and national acts, including these great headliners:

Thursday, February 25 – Luciana Souza
Friday, February 26 – Mingus Big Band
Saturday, February 27 (3pm) – Trygve Seim & Frode Haltli
Saturday, February 27 (7:30) – Dave Holland Quintet
Sunday, February 28 (3pm) – Pharoah Sanders
Sunday, February 28 (7:30) – Dave Douglas Brass Ecstasy

As we lead up to the event, I’ll focus on one of the headliners a week… next up the Dave Holland Quintet.

At the pinnacle of his career, Dave Holland has settled into the unassuming role of jazz master. The multi-award and poll-winning bassist, composer, arranger and bandleader leads two of the most vibrant groups in jazz: the Dave Holland Quintet and the Dave Holland Big Band. He has collaborated in two of the top jazz collectives of the decade: the ScoLoHoFo quartet comprised of Holland, John Scofield, Joe Lovano and Al Foster and the Herbie Hancock-piloted all-star quartet including Wayne Shorter and Brian Blade.

Though he’s too busy to be fully engaged in outside projects, Holland has played on recent Roy Haynes albums and recorded trio dates with such leaders as Geri Allen and Kenny Wheeler-all outings that he says he could not pass up. He even has taken his recording career into his own hands, launching his own label imprint, Dare2 Records in 2005.

A onetime sideman with two titans of jazz, Thelonious Monk (a short tenure) and Miles Davis (a seminal experience during the trumpeter’s Bitches Brew era), Holland made his debut as a leader in the early 1970s. He broke in as a leader with Music for Two Basses (1971) with Barre Phillips and Conference of the Birds (1972) with a band featuring Sam Rivers and Anthony Braxton. Holland also expanded his work as a side musician to include recording with a diversity of artists such as Bonnie Raitt (Give It Up, 1972), John Hartford (Morning Bugle, 1972) and Lee Konitz (Satori, 1974).

In recent years, his recording career has continued to flourish, recording such milestone albums as his quintet CD, Extended Play: Live at Birdland (2003) and two Grammy-winning big band discs, What Goes Around (2002) and the potent follow-up Overtime (2005). Continuing this impressive creative streak into 2006, Holland released a new quintet album, entitled Critical Mass. The album is the first new studio recording by the Dave Holland Quintet to be released in over five years and marks drummer Nate Smith’s debut recording with the band.

In regards to his quintet, Holland sees his band as representing the evolution of different types of rhythmic structures and forms that has been transforming the face of jazz in the last two decades. In his search to keep the music vital, Holland says the band has delved into the rhythmic traditions of Africa, India, South America and the Caribbean, as well as the innovations in contemporary music in the hip-hop and R&B worlds.

Webpage: http://www.daveholland.com/

FOR INFO & TICKETS: http://pdxjazz.com/tickets/

~Dan – np: Yuka HondaHeart Chamber Phantoms

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