October 2006

Dave Holland Quintet
October 13, 2006 The Music Hall TheatreToronto
A Quintet of Musical Munificence
by Paul J. Youngman with photos by Roger Humbert
A truly wonderful concert took place at The Music Hall Theatre as part of the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival in association with Emerge Entertainment. The show was to have started at 7:30 pm, it didn’t. Quite a bit of time was spent in line checking out the who’s who of top Canadian musicians who were arriving or milling about in the lounge area. Musicians like Thompson, Buchbinder, Occhipinti, and Barnes, to name a few. They had come to be entertained, educated, serenaded, and quite possibly blown away.

The Quintet was very generous at this performance, as leader Dave Holland said, “We have a new CD out, it’s called Critical Mass, we will be playing many of the songs from the new album. The first song we’re going to play is called “Ebb and Flow.” The generosity I referred to is that of these masterful musicians — sharing their virtuosity, spirit and passion for the music. Robin Eubanks on trombone is without a doubt, one of the best contemporary trombone players. A J.J. Johnson influenced horn player, sounding as close to a trumpet as is possible, he put on a clinic that was other-worldly.

Trombone played as a trumpet is a new twist for me. The first song was at a rapid meter and was the perfect vehicle for Eubanks to showcase his incredible playing. He would pull off some wicked sounding runs, fast slides, hit growling, dynamo humming notes that were just smoking, an appassionato performer. Eubanks on stage is tantamount to working with dynamite, an explosion of imaginative sound creation. In a magical manner, the song transitioned into a laid back, mellow groove and set up an amazing pizzicato solo by Holland. This was the start of a concert that was to be, of the blown away variety.

There were many amazing moments. Songs performed included “Easy Did It”. Holland introduced the song as “A song dedicated to the people of New Orleans.” The song had a bluesy feel to it, the pace gradually built to double time driven by drummer Nate Smith who laid down a rolling thunder, a storm warning — impossible not to notice. Chris Potter on tenor saxophone let loose with his trademark full tone, a mix of west coast cool and New York hip, fantastic lead playing. Layers of sound were created and the band backed up the rhythm with a huge full sound. The song would break to a slow ending, the blues based metre that started the song. Steve Nelson would solo on vibraphone, a very accomplished player, playing primarily single mallet technique during the solo but four mallet technique most of the time. Nelson would also play marimba on some of the songs, adding nice effect to the intro of “Last Minute Man.”

The song “Vicissitudes”, a Chris Potter composition, was a highlight moment with Potter pushing it to the limit. Potter plays magnificently in the mid and high registers. He plays rapid runs and offsets them with amazing dynamics. He’ll play a triplet — pause, repeat the figure — pause, fire off a run of 32nd notes for about two bars, followed by a glide from the mid to the high register, then he’ll bring the tune back to earth with a well placed honking sound, and a lightning fast arpeggio back to triplet — pause, triplet — pause. He gives his head a shake, walks away from the mic and glances back at Dave Holland who has a huge smile on his face and nods an affirmative at Potter. This all takes place in less than a bar, the audience erupts, applauding their approval for a job well done. Bravo.

Dave Holland

Robin Eubanks
The band took a short intermission, came back on stage with all cylinders firing and continued in the same vein. They would play another three numbers. The opening number, a Robin Eubanks composition entitled “Full Circle”, featured Nelson on vibes for the first verse. Potter started the tune playing soprano sax and would switch to tenor later in the song. The song was moderato and had a 6/4 feel, a rolling wave like motion. Potter would just wail on this song, he held nothing back and pushed the envelope to near overwhelming. Eubanks glided in on Potters final screeching, leg-lifting run; he wailed to match or surpass Potter. The drummer joined forces with Eubanks, accenting the off beats and adding great dynamics to the horn playing of Eubanks.

At this point, everything else was simply bonus. The song “Secret Garden” had a nice East Indian based rhythm, Holland and Smith performing a duet in the middle of the song. Smith made great use of hand drumming while playing off Holland who created a wondrous hypnotic pulse. “Lucky Seven”, the finale song, pushed the audience to a standing ovation and brought back the Quintet in due course. The encore song, the Steve Nelson composition “Go Fly A Kite”, was a fitting ending to a stupendous concert by the Dave Holland Quintet.

The Dave Holland Quintet

Dave Holland Quintet
Dave Holland – acoustic bass
Chris Potter – tenor and soprano saxophones
Robin Eubanks – trombone
Steve Nelson – vibraphone and marimba
Nate Smith – drums

> another report from this concert <

We welcome your comments and feedback
Paul J. Youngman
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
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