Bryan Anthony – Look at me Now

Dave Holland Big Band Dave Holland
Big Band
What Goes Around
(ECM – 2002)
by Demetrius Patterson

It can be a slippery slope to walk, but bassist Dave Holland has managed to balance a unique style in his artistry that few other musicians can claim. His style finds parity between chaos and melodic order. He has fine-tuned this niche in the jazz idiom for more than 40 years. You can hear that “Holland thing”, if you will, on many of his recordings throughout his lustrous career. One of the best ways to ascertain Holland’s unique vibration within the jazz genre is to listen to his contributions on the Miles Davis masterpiece, “Bitches Brew.” It’s on that recording of organized chaos that Holland shows his tenacity for being a melodic anchor. Now more than 30 years later since that pivotal recording, London-born Holland once again displays his technique as a unique bassist, and even more so as a leader, on the brilliant “Dave Holland Big Band: What Goes Around.”

What goes around your turntable or CD player are seven lengthy, yet fluid compositions that swing ferociously, occasionally threatening to go outside. Although a 13-piece big band ensemble, Holland’s group maintains cohesion that gives the music a more robust sound rather than that of a huge orchestration. Band members consist of the usual suspects from Holland’s smaller group, such as Robin Eubanks, trombones; Chris Potter, tenor saxophone; Steve Nelson, vibes; and Billy Kilson, drums.

Adding to the rich excursions are Andre Hayward and Josh Roseman on trombones; Earl Gardner, Alex Sipiagin and Duane Eubanks on trumpets and flugelhorns; Antonio Hart on flute and alto saxophone; Mark Gross on alto saxophone: and Gary Smulyan on baritone saxophone. Holland states in the liner notes of this album that his hope is to pay homage to some of his big band heroes such as Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus.

“One of my role models was the Ellington band, and the way Ellington and Strayhorn wrote for their particular musicians. I wanted the music to be settings for improvisers, not just an excuse for my own writing, and this led me to combine improvisation and written parts. Flexibility has been built into the music, so we can change it from night to night. The idea, as in the music of Ellington-Strayhorn and Charles Mingus, is that it can be difficult to tell where writing and improvising diverge….” Holland states in the album’s notes.

The artistry on “What Goes Around” is a testament that instructions from jazz masters of the past have shaped the strong foundation for a new big band jazz leader in this century.