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The Dave Holland Big Band resurrects booming, brassy old-school jazz

Wednesday, Sep 25 2002
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Since first stepping into the spotlight in the late '60s with a stint supporting Miles Davis, U.K. bassist and composer Dave Holland has been in demand as a sideman for his impeccable sense of time, round, muscular tone, wide-open ear, and singular compositional style. Increasingly, he's also gained renown as a bandleader, having now released over a dozen albums. Earlier this year, his stature as one of jazz's all-time ambassadors was confirmed when he swept Down Beat magazine's esteemed critics' poll with an unprecedented four top prizes, for Jazz Artist, Acoustic Bassist, Acoustic Jazz Ensemble, and Jazz Album of the Year (for Not for Nothin').

Holland's latest effort is What Goes Around, the debut by his Big Band, which hits with the power of a quintessential jazz orchestra. Think Duke Ellington or Charles Mingus: booming, brassy, harmonically brilliant, and heavy on the swing. For this combo, Holland has expanded his longtime quintet -- trombonist Robin Eubanks, tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, and drummer Billy Kilson -- with eight additional horn players, including altoist Antonio Hart and baritonist Gary Smulyan. In contrast to similar efforts that anemically attempt to resurrect the sound of an old-school orchestra, this 13-piece ensemble's character stems from Holland's signature aim: to offer fresh arrangements of originals that capture the exuberant tradition without resorting to nostalgia. There's arguably no better definition of jazz -- and no other bassist working today who quite brings the concept to life.

About The Author

Sam Prestianni

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