Dave Holland Sextet - Pass it On

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dare2 5310667    ****Dave Holland (b), Alex Spiagin (t, flhn), Robin Eubanks (tb), Antonio Hart (saxes), Mulgrew Miller (p) and Eric Harland (d).  Rec. date not stated


Well, this has to be my CD of the year. It is surely one of Dave Holland’s best albums in a long and distinguished career as a musician and as a composer. The best are always immediately recognisable – Ellington, Mingus, Brubeck, Ornette, Coltrane.  And Dave Holland is definitely another for that pantheon. Every thing combines perfectly here, there’s nothing wasted or out of place. Performances, arrangements and compositions all make perfect sense. I’ve never been a fan of Mulgrew Miller but in this setting he’s a revelation.

His introduction to ‘Equality’ is simply gorgeous. Eric Harland on drums is already one of the greats and the three horn frontline combine beautifully, especially in that interlocking, New Orleans derived counterpoint of which Holland is so fond. Listen closely and there are so many delightful touches here – like the way the trombone doubles the piano or bass line or the way woodwind or trumpet background figures comment upon or tell a different tale from the main theme. ‘Rivers Run’ – the most abstract piece here – heads off into dark and uncharted waters, while the title track closes the record in fine, funky style.  This is the most honest record, emotionally and artistically, you will hear in a long time. It’s all in the groove.

Duncan Heining


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