Dave Holland Quintet
at the Adrian Boult Hall * * * *
Review by Peter Bacon
Double bassist Dave Holland called the first tune, and trombonist Robin Eubanks set forth on a solo, intense, fiery, complex not only in melodic and harmonic construction but in emotional exposition too.
It’s the kind of solo you might dream of as the climax to an evening of world-class jazz. But the Dave Holland Quintet starts where most groups finish and then builds from there.
Saxophonist Chris Potter had to wait a while for his turn, showing some flashes of brilliance on soprano before digging deep later in this uninterrupted concert with a brace of solos that showed why he is the rightful heir to a long line of tenor innovators, from Coltrane through to Brecker.
Drummer Nate Smith could single-handedly power a small city, and then manages to couple this explosive energy with feather-light subtlety.
Standing in for regular Quintet vibes player Steve Nelson was the exceptionally fine young pianist Jason Moran. He brought a fascinating new facet to the group, with searching and oblique solos that provided the shade after the brilliant lightshows of Potter and Eubanks.
Holland, the "grand old man" of the band at 60 years old, is everything a jazz bassist could be and more. He leads from the back and from the bottom, grinning at his band’s prowess while turning them in this rhythmic direction or down that harmonic path at the twang of a string.
If these are five men at the very top of their own instrumental game, their cohesiveness as a unit takes their artistry – and our enjoyment – to an even higher level.
It’s been called the finest acoustic jazz group in the world. Anyone lucky enough to be in a packed Adrian Boult Hall on Sunday must surely agree to that.