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This record was made partly as a response to public demand and from a need to document the band's stretched out, exploratorylive sets.Consequently there's little here that clocks in at less than 15 minutes or so. While that may seem a bit excessive, what we have here is a band that seems incapable of being dull.
While it's Holland's band in name, writing credits and solo opportunities are spread evenly. The front line of sax, vibes and trombone may strike some as unconventional, but to say it works would be a bit of an understatement; more than sum of their parts, indeed.
Holland and drummer Billy Kilson inject even the most obscure time signatures with irresistible élan anda deep, funky precision. Kilson is unstoppable, sending the crowd into ecstacies with furious, timestretching eruptions that somehow always end precisely where they should, while the bassist gives his usual mix of flawless timekeeping and wiry, muscular lyricism.
Steve Nelson adds extra percussive flair with urgent marimba ripples, or supports and comments with sweetly ringing vibes chords. Robin Eubanks simply has to be one of the most agile, expressive and precise trombonists around today, while Chris Potter's facility on soprano, tenor and alto connects with all sorts of saxophone traditions; one moment he's in garrulous Sonny Rollins mode, the next he's darting around with the quizzical grace of Wayne Shorter.
The same goes for the music; all kinds of jazz traditions are hinted at, from Mingus to M-Base.Despite being forever tagged as Miles Davis' discovery, Holland, like Jarrett, Hancock, Zawinul et al, has made his own place in jazz history, and this band is as state of the art as it gets.Unmissable. --Peter Marsh
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Without question, Extended Play provides ample evidence that the Dave Holland Quintet is, simply, the premier jazzband presently on the scene, beating out such standout outfits as the Standards Trio, the Pat Matheny Band, and the Bad Plus. Why?
Personnel. Holland is the premier bassist of his generation. He does it all: composes, produces, anchors, innovates, arranges, leads. And he has surrounded himself with a killer band. Starting with the hugely underrated Steve Nelson on vibes, a player who comes fully into his huge promise in this rarified group setting, Holland has selected players at the absolute top of their respective instruments. Robin Eubanks, an extremely fleet and deft trombonist with a simply gorgeous tone, shines with his glorious colorations and smart soloing. Chris Potter, a glib and nimble saxophonist, solos with uncommon power and presence here. And drummer Billy Kilson simply amazes. Combining uncanny power with uncommon propulsiveness always harnessed and in service to his role as rhythmic ground, he generates hip polyrhythms and a pulse-oriented approach to achieve a rhythmic sophistication that propels the band into daring and unusual places.
Group improvization. This band communicates and interacts as a group at a higher level, with greater ease, and with more original ideas than any other group that comes to mind, save some of Miles's and Coltrane's best bands. These dudes, having played some of this music for more than six years, simply engage in a level of music interaction seldom heard.
Compositional variety and integrity. All the compositions here are group originals, with all but two of the nine from the pen of Dave Holland. Besides a huge variety of styles, the group constantly provides fascinating rhythmic, harmonic, and dynamic contexts to optimally showcase their compositional brilliance, perhaps most fully demonstrated on "Juggler's Parade."
Breadth of expression. This group evokes the entire history of jazz improvization during this session, but without the unseemly slavishness and fawning that too often mars other bands' attempts to reference the Tradition. Perfectly at home with ballads, burners, Latin-tinged numbers, modal music, post-bop, free, and Eastern sensibilities, the band moves in and out of these stylistic universes as if they're the air they breathe.
A certain sense of weight and drama. It's almost as if these guys know that they represent some kind of ne plus ultra expression of contemporary jazz--and they're perfectly willing to take up the mantle, thank you. The sheer chutzpah of their playing, their virtuosity lightly worn, their magnanimity of expression, all contribute to a sense that something beyond the ordinary is going down here.
And it does.
And you shouldn't miss it.
I have been listening to Dave Holland in one context or another for 30 years now and I am not sure he has hit his peak yet -- but this record is pretty darn close. You can really tell this is a _group_ - they are just so damn tight. Even during the extended improvisation sections they communicate musically at an amazing level.
You also realize that Holland and the group have been able to do something quite rare -- using everything the group knows. From free to the blues -- it's all there and all swings. This is very joyous music.
The playing is uniformly great. But, special mention must be made of Robin Eubanks. wow. His gorgeous sound and amazing solo creativity really shines here.
Just buy it already!