on 5 October 2008
Holland has led and appeared in groups of various sizes, from trios, quintets and sextets to mass ensembles, whether with Miles Davis 40 years ago, or in Holland's own recent Big Band output. However, Holland Quartet releases are relatively few and the first slew of mid price Touchstones reissues from ECM (in which Holland features prominently) provides an ideal opportunity for fans to reacquaint themselves with the Dave Holland Quartet's penultimate release, 1989's excellent "Extensions".
Each of Holland, guitarist Eubanks and saxophonist Coleman provides two of the six tracks which total just under an hour. None is less than excellent but while Eubanks and Coleman frequently write around his own instrument, Holland's contributions are in a different league and provide a masterclass in ensemble composition.
"Processional" and " The Oracle" are more ambient, sensual, ethereal, sophisticated and rewarding than the rest of the album and in "The Oracle" in particular (which as the previous reviewer has correctly said is the centrepiece of the album in every sense) Holland coaxes wonderful, Bill Frasell-like sounds from Eubanks, and Marvin "Smitty" Smith provides piston-precise yet supple and shifting percussion as the instruments intertwine to spell-binding effect as Holland's bass only really kicks in over three minutes into the track.
In summary, while not guaranteed a place in history as is "Bitches Brew" or as unique as Holland's collaboration with oud maestro Anouar Brahem and saxophonist John Surman on "Thimar"; "Extensions" is as good as any place to start with Holland and a compulsory purchase for any fan yet to become familiar with this particular pleasure.
A fantastic album. Holland is joined by Steve Coleman on alto, Kevin Eubanks on guitar and Marvin Smitty Smith on drums. What a great unit they are. Main soloists Coleman and Eubanks are both on sensational form, underpinned by Holland and Smith's ever inventive rhythm section.
The highlight for me is the Holland penned The Oracle with breathtaking work from Eubanks on the intro and during his incredible solo. If you like small group jazz this is a must.
on 17 December 2009
No pointless nostalgia here. Voted the Downbeat Critics Poll `Album of the Year' in 1989, Dave Holland's `Extensions' is a fresh sounding Quartet recording featuring Holland alongside some of the leading Young Lions of the provocative M-BASE movement: Steve Coleman (alto saxophone), Kevin Eubanks (guitar) and Marvin `Smitty' Smith (drums). Six tunes are featured, two each by Holland, Coleman and Eubanks and each composition is designed to allow the musicians to engage in some of the freshest sounding small-group jazz of the late 1980s. Coleman sounds edgy throughout without a be-bop cliché in sight and Eubanks, a new arrival in the Holland ensemble, reveals himself to be one of the most original guitar players of his generation, doffing a cap to the traditions of jazz guitar but using his own voice to create something new and exciting. Smith had already been Holland's co-driver for some years, appearing alongside the bass player since his 1984 `Seeds of Time' recording.
Eubanks' `Nemesis' opens with a brooding riff which form a theme that appears throughout the piece , the Quartet building from a delicate, moody aesthetic to something more assertive. `Processional' is somewhat more subtle but Eubanks absolutely burns on Coleman's `Black Hole'. Holland's `The Oracle' is a 14-minute highlight, the long improvised intro, with the composer's endlessly varying ostinato's, Coleman's musings, Smith's eclectic percussion and Eubanks' ghostly swells, building slowly to usher in a strong theme on saxophone at around the 4 minute mark - the tension is positively palpable. A great bass solo is just icing on the cake.
`101 Degrees Fahrenheit (Slow Meltdown)', another Coleman contribution, opens with a classic Holland soliloquy. The piece is, to all intents and purposes, a ballad but don't let the label fool you into thinking this is routine smooth jazz; the piece is much deeper than most, more tone poem than poetry. `Color of Mind' is another riff orientated blow with great interplay throughout.
Overall, `Extensions' was profoundly worthy of the vote of confidence that the Downbeat Critics offered and certainly well worth the bargain prices for which it can be acquired under this current ECM re-release scheme. Very much recommended to anyone who enjoys their jazz with an edge.
on 19 January 2013
This is a magnificent album - a real gem in Dave Holland's extensive and sometimes idiosyncratic catalogue. The inclusion of Kevin Eubanks on guitar is genius. Normally Kevin Eubanks is funky, and middle of the road. But given the space afforded by Dave Holland's natural tendency to let other fly, Eubanks goes out on a limb and delivers some very tasty guitar. A great feel permeates this album. It's not quite a 5 star album - but almost.