Dave Holland Big Band: What Goes Around (ECM 1777)

What Goes Around

Dave Holland Big Band
What Goes Around

Antonio Hart alto saxophone, flute
Mark Gross alto saxophone
Chris Potter tenor saxophone
Gary Smulyan baritone saxophone
Robin Eubanks trombone
Andre Hayward trombone
Josh Roseman trombone
Earl Gardner trumpet, flugelhorn
Alex Sipiagin trumpet, flugelhorn
Duane Eubanks trumpet, flugelhorn
Steve Nelson vibraphone
Dave Holland double-bass
Billy Kilson drums
Recorded January 2001 at Avatar Studios, New York
Engineer: James Farber
Assistant engineer: Aya Takemura
Produced by Dave Holland
Co-produced by Louise Holland
Executive producer: Manfred Eicher

Bassist Dave Holland widens the span of his guiding hand for his first big band album. At the heart of this defiant session is Holland’s peak quintet with saxophonist Chris Potter, trombonist Robin Eubanks, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, and drummer Billy Kilson, all of whom nestle among an extended family of brass and reeds. Representing nearly two decades of original compositions, What Goes Around dives headfirst into the deep end with a choice tune from 1988’s Triplicate. “Triple Dance” tips its hat into a savvy introductory groove that immediately fronts the delectable baritone of Gary Smulyan. The music tops a perfect pint before sliding it down the bar into “Blues for C.M.” This sweet, low swing evokes the ebony moods of its namesake, Charles Mingus, while yielding half-pikes for Nelson’s self-propulsions and Potter’s compact swing. A tender solo from the bandleader caps off the proceedings with soul. Also from The Razor’s Edge is that 1987 record’s title track, which now unfolds in denser, slicker brilliance, duly reminding us that the effectiveness of a razor’s cut is nothing without the gap in its center, which allows its anchorage and turns danger into utility. Next is the 17-minute title track, which comes to us via the 2001 release Not For Nothin’. As the album’s deepest fantasy, it puts Holland’s bass lines on full display, jumping out as they do from gentle persuasion to grounding digs, the latter inspiring some uninhibited cloudbursts from the horns. Potter unleashes some fierce tenorism early on, outdone only by Eubanks’s proud frenzy. After passing through dense checkpoints of passion along the way, a cathartic spate from Kilson works us into the breakdown. Phenomenal. “Upswing” serves up more hearty baritone, sharing a plate with the crisper articulations of Duane Eubanks on trumpet the tang of gumdrop vibes. Duane flashes back to 1984’s Jumpin’ In with the blush of “First Snow,” which above all spawns a truly masterful solo from Antonio Hart on alto that is worth the price of admission ten times over. Hart sheds his skin again in the sway of “Shadow Dance,” adding flute to the mixture. Amid a palette of rich ochre and lemon highlights, Holland’s ear-catching artery and Potter’s acrobatic embouchure trip us over an explosive drum solo into the final weave of horns and magic.

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