Dave Holland Quintet: Not For Nothin’ (ECM 1758)

Not For Nothin

Dave Holland
Not for Nothin’

Chris Potter saxophones
Robin Eubanks trombone, cowbell
Steve Nelson vibraphone, marimba
Billy Kilson drums
Dave Holland double-bass
Recorded September 21-23, 2000 at Avatar Studios, New York
Engineer: James Farber
Assistant engineer: Aya Takemura
Produced by Dave Holland

Dave Holland has done for the modern jazz quintet what Keith Jarrett has for the standards trio. Balancing utter control with democratic reverence in a carefully assembled team, he pushes an open agenda of bold yet affectionate creation. In this third and final ECM record of his most proper quintet, he, along with saxophonist Chris Potter, trombonist Robin Eubanks, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, and drummer Billy Kilson cut some of the group’s most flawless diamonds yet. As much a unit as one could ever hope for, their connection as such is more than telepathic—it’s downright genetic. This is all the more astonishing when you think that by the year 2000, when this album was laid down, the group had only been together for three years (even less, seeing as Potter replaced Steve Wilson in 1998).

Of the album’s nine tunes, five have felt the scratch of Holland’s pen. Vital and varietal, they boast the quintet’s signature joy in spades. Unique among them is the reflective “For All You Are,” which begins in a loose weave and proceeds to lay the love on thick. For this one Potter has an especially soulful turn on tenor, gray as a storm cloud and as rainbowed as its aftermath. “What Goes Around” is this session’s vehicle of choice for the horns and also titles the follow-up big band album. This hot ticket is a master class in listening to one’s band mates. The symmetry has to be heard to be believed. The title track is an equally hip penultimatum and finds Nelson shining over break-beat support from the rhythm section. Potter’s soprano adds further bite on two tracks, running like a shawm’s great-great-granddaughter through “Shifting Sands” in anticipation of new settlements and cracking eggs of phenomenal cast in “Cosmosis.” Almost flippant but ever genuine, he charts a magnetic course indeed.

Into Holland’s five the set list shuffles one tune by each remaining member. Eubanks’s “Global Citizen” bolts straight out of the gate freshly laminated. Nelson takes an early lead by a head and carries the quintet swiftly around every bend. Holland navigates this game of Snakes and Ladders all the while, marking a turning point midway through into breezier denouements, which, iced by Kilson’s semisweet drumming, provide plenty of skating surface for the composer’s gliding valves. Potter’s offering is “Lost And Found,” which finds Holland in especially muscled form. Eubanks cuts the cloth with precision, leaving Kilson to rev up the energy to interlocking heights. The drummer’s own “Billows Of Rhythm” dovetails into Holland’s love of jagged syncopation and throws the bassist into an early solo. This gives plenty of breathing room for Potter’s upbeat tenoring in what amounts to the set’s most youthful track. This leaves only Nelson and his sardonically titled “Go Fly A Kite,” which is actually quite forgiving in execution. It paints an evocative picture of sky and cloud, giving the horns more than enough room to soar.

Whether it’s bass and vibes, bass and drums, or sax and trombone, the combinations turn on a dime in constant organic relay. All of which puts the humble reviewer to task in picking sides. For just when Kilson seems to steal the show, Holland overwhelms with its virtuosic flair. When Nelson seems buried under Potter’s effervescent rides, he resurfaces with glittering treasure in hand. Eubanks preens his fair share of feathers as well. All the more reason to just sit back and shake one’s head in wonder at the plenitude.

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.

Get this.

Dave Holland Quintet: Extended Play – Live At Birdland (ECM 1864/65)

Extended Play

Dave Holland Quintet
Extended Play: Live At Birdland

Chris Potter soprano, alto and tenor saxophones
Robin Eubanks trombone, cowbell
Steve Nelson vibraphone and marimba
Billy Kilson drums
Dave Holland double-bass
Recorded live at Birdland, November 21-24, 2001
Engineer: James Farber
Produced by Dave Holland

That Dave Holland ends his brief frontispiece in the CD booklet for Extended Play: Live At Birdland by acknowledging the commitment and uncompromising creativity of his band mates is proof positive of the bassist’s own. Everything he had recorded for ECM up to this point, starting with the label’s ninth release (A.R.C.) in 1971, comes to a head in this double-disc live recording from New York’s famous Birdland jazz club some three decades later. The quintet featured here is to date Holland’s best-oiled machine: saxophonist Chris Potter, trombonist Robin Eubanks, mallet man Steve Nelson, and drummer Billy Kilson work together with such professionalism, respect, and synchronicity that one needn’t even have been there to acknowledge it. And because the album’s nine tunes (averaging 15 minutes each) are all of such a massive piece, it fares better to speak of the men behind the music.

Kilson shines on “Prime Directive” (as he does on the album it titles), backing the spine-tingling negotiations of the horns and bringing the full gamut of his sound to bear on “The Balance,” which opens barely, tenderly: the last gasp of sunset before the dusk draws its curtain. At 21 minutes, this is no shy cat but a lion ready to pounce yet who would rather sing for the sheer pleasure of it. Holland’s intimate solo against Kilson’s beetle-wing cymbals makes for some beautiful downtime. Bassist and drummer also pair off nicely in “Claressence,” where they lay down a confident groove beneath the harmonized theme, leaving Potter to unleash a kennel’s worth of playful pets.

As for Potter and Eubanks, they are so well integrated that it’s all one can do to analytically separate them, though Potter edges out in the slumbering “Make Believe,” playing North Star to Holland’s seafaring. “Free for All” realizes deepest integration of this duo, and of the quintet at large. Soprano and trombone make a perfect pair, Holland the solid triangle at the fulcrum of their seesaw. Eubanks gets his soliloquy at the start of “Bedouin Trail,” for which he dons the storyteller’s hat and kicks off an especially flowing take on this quintessential journey, and dialogues superbly with both Potter and Holland in “Jugglers Parade.” He also stands out for the occasional moments of intensity during which he sings into his trombone in pure, incendiary brilliance.

Holland’s bass is an unbreakable tendon, showing off its flexibility in the Potter-penned “High Wire,” another fine display of congruence. His flip-flopping salts the rim of the alto margarita that ensues. Hip and then some, Kilson provides a splash of Cointreau, Nelson a Grand Marnier infusion. Going down just as smoothly is the gargantuan ender: “Metamorphos.” This one comes from the mind of Eubanks and finds Holland lyrical and ebullient, establishing at the outset the perfect conditions for transformation. His cell divides, and those further into a full-blown 20-minute experience, of which the night’s most engaging few are shared in triplicate between Eubanks, Kilson, and Holland.

And let us not forget Nelson, whose deft cross-hatching throughout—but especially in “Bedouin Trail,” “Free For All,” and “Claressence”—is so omnipresent, so slick and attentive, that without it the other four planets would fling wildly from their sun.

Extended Play is a rebirth of cool and about as perfect as live albums get. It is also a veritable résumé at a high point in the band’s career. The five intersecting planes on the cover say it all. If you only ever buy one Holland album (and I hope you don’t stop there), your choice is clear.

Dave Holland Quintet: Prime Directive (ECM 1698)

Prime Directive

Dave Holland Quintet
Prime Directive

Dave Holland double-bass
Robin Eubanks trombone
Chris Potter soprano, alto and tenor saxophones
Steve Nelson vibraphone, marimba
Billy Kilson drums
Recorded December 10-12, 1998 at Avatar Studios, New York
Engineer: James Farber
Produced by Dave Holland

Chris Potter replaces Steve Wilson as reedman in this follow-up to the Dave Holland Quintet’s Grammy-nominated Points of View. The band’s tremendous communication and obvious joy embolden a strong set of nine tracks, five of which come from Holland’s pen, starting with the title. The addictive rhythms are quintessential Holland and usher us into a sound-world that one hardly wants to leave. In this respect, drummer Billy Kilson rules the roost from start to finish. Working seamlessly with Holland as Potter and trombonist Robin Eubanks cast nets over Steve Nelson’s liquid crystal vibes, he engenders a pollinated groove without fail. Kilson further inspires his band mates to step up their rhythmic game, as in “Jugglers Parade,” which boasts a fine example of Holland’s ability to embolden even the most upbeat solos through an inborn lyrical power (not to mention some lovely sopranism from Potter on the recharge), and “Down Time,” the closing trio number with Eubanks in the lead. Potter takes up Kilson’s call most creatively in “Looking Up,” as does Nelson in an epic solo. The smoky rejoinder from Eubanks morphs into a percolating extravaganza and recedes for a quiet yet robust solo from Holland. The leader-bassist seems to deliver a caravan track in every session, and this time around “Make Believe” is it. A sandy and romantic excursion, it spreads the night sky like paper, across which Potter inscribes a love letter to the art of improvisation.

Holland’s coconspirators offer a tune each. Eubanks steals the show with his fireside dance, “A Searching Spirit,” pulling out a bubbling yet punchy solo, while Nelson gallivants through Kilson’s inescapable groove. The alto touches on the downswing foreshadow Potter’s equally upbeat “High Wire.” Nelson sweeps back with his forlorn “Candlelight Vigil,” which feels like an epilogue, a coda, an honest sigh. Kilson bows out here, while Holland picks up his bow for some fluid talk. The drummer returns on his “Wonders Never Cease,” which from a soulful intro by way of Holland looses a stream of inspired beats.

Prime Directive is a listener’s gift, wrapped and tied with a bow, and a viable contender for Holland’s finest ECM session.

Alternate Directive
Alternate cover

Dave Holland Quintet: Points of View (ECM 1663)

Alternate Points of View

Dave Holland Quintet
Points of View

Dave Holland double-bass
Steve Wilson soprano and alto saxophones
Robin Eubanks trombone
Steve Nelson vibraphone, marimba
Billy Kilson drums
Recorded September 25/26, 1997 at Avatar Studios, New York
Engineer: James Farber
Produced by Manfred Eicher

In 1997, ECM veteran Dave Holland unveiled his new quintet with saxophonist Steve Wilson, trombonist Robin Eubanks, vibist Steve Nelson, and drummer Billy Kilson. Wilson and Kilson were then the latest additions to the bassist’s milieu, the former making his only ECM appearance here and both making their debut with the label. Kilson has since grown to notoriety through his associations with Holland, and it’s impossible to wonder why after hearing him emote throughout this smooth, copacetic set, especially in tracks like “Metamorphos” (the sole Eubanks-penned tune therein) and Holland’s opener, “The Balance.” As representative a doorway as one could hope for, its unmistakable bass line underscores a developing signature of drums, bass, and vibes that sticks to the ribs like a good meal. It’s a deep and shimmering sound, whetting our appetite through a solid solo from Eubanks, Holland all the while bringing that buoyant flavor we crave. Wilson’s sopranism whips a thin caramel in Holland’s dark chocolate goodness, while Kilson’s riffle force adds texture and crunch. The result is the astrological sign under which the remainder lives.

As per usual, Holland takes the lion’s share of compositional duties. “Mr. B.” brings the joyful, swinging sort of beauty one would expect from bassist Ray Brown, to whom it bears dedication. An early vibes solo gets us off on the right foot in this sure jaunt through city streets. Wilson gives an exemplary lesson in alto improvisation, building from simple elements and unwinding in flowing chromatic lines that cajole the band to peak intensity. “Bedouin Trail” is a leftover from Holland’s Thimar session with Anouar Brahem and John Surman and proves to be a perfect atmospheric vehicle. Nelson draws from an especially appropriate color palette, pairing nicely with the sandy textures from Eubanks. “Ario” means à Rio and came out of a trip Holland took to Brazil just before putting this record together. Though inspired by rainforest and natural splendor, it boasts an urban edge, not to mention also the cleanest solos of the entire set. Holland’s then-recent work with Herbie Hancock adds due piquancy to “Herbaceous,” an upbeat cruise along fast-moving waters. Holland is swift as a jackrabbit here, setting off some gorgeous soprano work in the process.

Wilson and Nelson round out the writing with “The Benevolent One” and “Serenade,” respectively. The saxophonist gives us the tender heart of the session and provides plenty of page space for soulful monologues all around. Nelson likewise in “Serenade,” a tropical infusion of marimba that is easy, breezy, beautiful.

Throughout every track, Holland brings the listener courtside, as it were, with his lyrical, elliptical playing. Yet off all the soloists, it is Eubanks who shows the most fire and innovation. In the end, we have laid-back, non-confrontational, music that comes to us democratically and without pretention. A well-rounded record, slick as rain.

Points of View
Alternate cover

Dave Holland Quartet: Dream Of The Elders (ECM 1572)

 

Dave Holland Quartet
Dream of the Elders

Dave Holland double-bass
Steve Nelson vibraphone, marimba
Eric Person alto, soprano saxophones
Gene Jackson drums
Cassandra Wilson vocal
Recorded March 1995, Power Station, New York
Engineer: James Farber
Produced by Manfred Eicher

This incarnation of the Dave Holland Quartet finds the double bassist in the excellent company of mallet man Steve Nelson, saxophonist Eric Person, and drummer Gene Jackson. The combination is a fortuitous one and glistens under the ECM heat lamp. A characteristic bass line sets us on “The Winding Way,” the theme of which Person’s soprano rides like sunlight on the fin of a dolphin, followed not far behind by a string of underwater acrobatics from vibes. So begins a set of eight immodest Holland originals, averaging over nine minutes apiece. The length is never for its own sake, due only to the sheer amount of stories these musicians have to convey. Take “Lazy Snake,” for example, which begins with a gritty bass solo before swaying, dressed to the nines, like a debutante onto an empty dance floor. A marvelous joint that truly showcases the interlocking imaginations of these fearless four. At the marimba, Nelson moves from solo to vamp as the sky from dusk to midnight, dimming a meditative alto to finish. After a few sprightly turns in “Claressence,” vocalist Cassandra Wilson makes a guest appearance on “Equality.” Said attribute defines not only this tune but also the band as a whole. Hers is a voice that yearns for freedom, sliding lovers like beads off a string until the hummingbird of her resolve is left hovering. “Ebb & Flow” does much more of the latter than the former, proving once again why Nelson is the star on this date, further enlivening the spidery altoism of the title track and setting off a spate of cathartic drumming. Of the rhythm section we must also take note in “Second Thoughts.” Its blink-of-an-eye precision invigorates fabulous solos from vibes and alto for a telltale journey of the heart, ending with an instrumental reprise of “Equality,” sultry and debonair.

Dream Of The Elders lives up to its title. Just listen to Person soloing on “Ebb & Flow” and you’ll understand the lengths to which these souls will travel to translate the language of their genealogies into a vernacular we can all feel and understand. Easy as pie, sans sugar crash.

Dave Holland Quartet: Extensions (ECM 1410)

 

Dave Holland Quartet
Extensions

Dave Holland bass
Steve Coleman alto saxophone
Kevin Eubanks guitar
Marvin “Smitty” Smith drums
Recorded September 1989, Power Station, New York
Engineer: James Farber
Produced by Manfred Eicher

If you’re like me, then you’re most familiar with this album’s rhythm section from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. From 1995 to 2006, guitarist Kevin Eubanks and drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith were the anchors for said program’s house band. I always knew that Eubanks was a talented musician but felt that his insights were often lost in the muddled acoustics of the NBC studio in which they were situated. These conditions also boded ill, in most cases, for the show’s musical acts. In addition, for the most part Eubanks had his distortion turned high in order to achieve a certain brand of punctuation in his bantering with Leno, but I sometimes noticed that when returning from a commercial break he would be finishing a smooth jazz number, the brilliance of which I could only guess at. It wasn’t until I heard Extensions that I realized just how deep that brilliance goes.

Eubanks astounds at every turn of Extensions. Having penned the opening and closing tracks, he has the first and last word on things and brings to the in-between a certain majesty to the scope of his improvisatory paths. His “Nemesis” starts things off just right, giving way from barely plucked stirrings to the controlled vigor of altoist Steve Coleman’s left side drive. Not to be outdone, of course, are Smith and the album’s leader (though you wouldn’t know it from Holland’s many gracious nods to these younger trailblazers), whose interactions give Coleman just the lift he needs to soar with a blistering yet somehow nonabrasive sound. A toffee crisp solo from Eubanks paints here in leaps and somersaults, each a tight circle of deftly contained energy.

Holland himself gives us two tracks, of which “Processional” is the most sumptuous. This arid groove finds the bassist stepping lightly, making way for a starlit solo from Eubanks. Holland opens “The Oracle” with a line so delicate, it almost sounds like a classical guitar. The subtlety of Smith’s stylings at the kit and Eubanks’s bird-like calls work themselves through the curling plumes of windswept dunes, leaving a sonorous trail of footsteps that is redrawn as quickly as it is buried. This nearly 15-minute cut is the highlight of the album and should make a Eubanks believer out of anyone. Holland’s almost spiritually minded solo, detailed like a prayer, still conveys an unparalleled wanderlust before Coleman draws a trail of fire into the refrain. His two tunes, “Black Hole” and “101° Fahrenheit (Slow Meltdown),” are respectively funky and sultry, the latter unveiling fan-chopped smoke and alleys littered with wasted opportunities, singing of a time when one could forget them all in an amber bottle.

The closer, “Color Of Mind,” sports one of Holland’s catchiest bass lines and another astonishing dialogue from Eubanks. It also gives us some downtime with Holland along with Smith, who turns up the heat a notch or two into a sparkling close.

This album is a coming of age in an age of becoming. If ECM’s Touchstones series, of which this is a part, had its own Touchstones, this would be one of them.

Dave Holland Trio: Triplicate (ECM 1373)

Dave Holland Trio
Triplicate

Dave Holland bass
Steve Coleman alto saxophone
Jack DeJohnette drums
Recorded March 1988 at Power Station, New York
Engineer: James Farber
Produced by Lee Townsend

Triplicate is a fantastic (surprise, surprise) trio album that joins bassist Dave Holland with altoist Steve Coleman and rhythmatist Jack DeJohnette. This date’s quintessential opener, “Games,” comes from Coleman’s pen and showcases Holland’s love of play. The man with the upright plan is light on his feet here, DeJohnette even more so, while Coleman brings a chocolaty sound to his playing. Holland gives us his first of four compositions in “Quiet Fire,” which might as well fall under Coleman’s job description, such is the warming depth he elicits. In the wake of these tender considerations, Duke Ellington’s “Take The Coltrane” brings a different fire, this one whipped like cream into soft peaks. Coleman injects a classic energy into this tune, so vivid that we must readjust to Holland, who solos in a relatively quiet space. DeJohnette, on the other hand, kicks up the dust to match. With “Rivers Run” we’re back on the Holland track as he opens with a solo before that soulful alto breathes its magic into the air. Holland settles on a groovy line, picked up by DeJohnette’s cymbals and snared into an engaging roll. What seems a short and sweet ending then segues into a solo from the drummer, thereby inspiring the most spirited playing on the album from his bandmates. After a delicate rendition of “Four Winds,” we transition into Holland’s “Triple Dance.” Coleman winds fluently here, while Holland unseals a fantastic solo of his own. The trio take things down a few notches during DeJohnette’s “Blue,” regaling us with a smooth and tattered tale in which Holland’s understated brilliance shows us once again that he can lie low just as well as he can swing. Coleman likewise reveals the depths of his soul, and continues to do so amid the delicacies of the traditional “African Lullaby,” our final coddling before Charlie Parker’s “Segment” throws us back in the loop for an ecstatic close.

Triplicate is not an in-your-face album but one wrought with careful language. It avoids the danger of expletives in search of a clean melodic line. One imagines that if this album were alive, the audience would be whooping and clapping all the same, but in the studio a certain cleanliness of sound wins over. This has its pros and cons, depending on your preferences, but either way we can step outside of this record knowing we’ve just experienced something joyous.

Listening to the Wind: Moran/Holland Duo Live Report

Jason Moran / Dave Holland Duo
Barnes Hall, Cornell University
January 28, 2012
8:00 pm

Sometimes a performance can change your life. Equally rare is the performance that brings life to change. To those fortunate enough to be in the intimate confines of Barnes Hall last night, the latter is in tall order. The performers need no introduction (for the curious, my pre-concert report is here), and perhaps they prefer it that way, for when they take to the stage they deflect attention from themselves by first paying deference to one another. Yet even before our rapt attention and respectfully placed woops fill the room, the stage itself has told us all we need to know. Between towers of speakers and amplifying equipment, two instruments: a freshly tuned Steinway and a prone bass. Moran’s chair, which he brings wherever he can, sports clean, modern lines, while Holland’s trim yet deep instrument seems to hold countless histories in its burnished surface. Already there is a conversation happening, as if to confess the music before the artists actualize it.

And actualize it they most certainly do. Rather than kick off the concert with bang, however, they start with a touching homage to the great Sam Rivers, with whom both Moran and Holland had the opportunity to work and whose recent passing was felt deeply by all who knew him. To feel his spirit living on like this is a joy to witness. With the gentle cascade of a frozen waterfall in spring thaw—appropriate for this unseasonably warm winter—the gentle strains of “Beatrice” go straight to the heart, from the heart. Between Moran’s crisp pointillism and Holland’s smooth hibernations, one finds hard-won balance. Each note leaves an aftertaste of affection.

Holland and Moran follow up with an offering apiece. Holland’s paints some of the broadest sonic vistas of the set, twisting his virtuosity into a solved Rubik’s cube. Alongside this powerful chunk of expressiveness, Moran’s “Gummy Moon” reads like a bedtime story (and by no coincidence, for the title reflects his children’s mispronunciation of the classic Goodnight Moon). Beneath Holland’s monotone, the piano man unpacks terse chording into a majestic tale of starlit travel. A breath and a pause, and we’re off to a whole new gig as Duke Ellington’s neglected “Wig Wise” ushers us into the center portion of the show. The duo share a smile and a nod, welcoming us into something as timeless as the thematic material at their fingertips. Moran is a whirlwind of ideas, though both musicians’ flair for ecstatic performance is in full evidence here.

After a ballad so smooth one would swear the house lights dimmed out of sympathy, the unmistakable zigzag of Holland’s classic “Four Winds” further strengthens the Rivers connection. Moran explores some of the more turgid recesses of this well-aged tune, even as Holland stomps his way through a storm of brilliance. As with all the music they play, they take this number not only to new heights, but also to new depths.

Next, Holland provides one of the concert’s highlights in his “Hooveling.” Meant to evoke one’s navigation through a New York City crowd, it twists and turns with a deftness so hip it almost hurts. Moran listens right there with us, enjoying the talents of one who commands at the solo bass like no other, before turning an eye to something bygone, a tender farewell that only presages the second tribute of the night in Paul Motian’s “Once Around the Park.” As Holland lovingly explains before they play, Motian frequented the jogging path around the reservoir at Central Park. It was during one such running session that the tune came to him. And indeed, we can feel the chill city winds passing from the piano through the bass’s arboreal footwork. A fitting tribute to a human being of profound melodic insight.

Before the duo close with improvisations on a familiar Thelonious Monk theme, they lay the nostalgia on thick with “Twelve,” a tune once taught to Moran by his teacher Jaki Byard. The result is a veritable train ride through a landscape of nodding heads.

With these two, jazz isn’t just an art form. It’s a warm hearth in the cold. Moran is a hopeful player, always looking ahead to whatever light may be on the horizon. His right hand is a water strider of expression that widens its purview at every turn. Now a chromatic jester, now a paternal force, it engages the left with insistence and verve. Holland, too, strikes a happy medium between wildness and diction. In spite of his ever-wandering fingers, he is nothing if not selective. He chooses his lows carefully, as does Moran his highs, and each of his harmonics feels like a drop of innocence in a conflicted world. He can bring that wincing twang to bear with the best of them, but more often wants to talk with us rather than at us. Both Moran and Holland make every repetition novel and exciting. Like souls lost in the beauty of a memory that threatens to fade in a harsher present, they seek to record everything they see—not for posterity, but for the invaluable ardor of the moment.

If you were unable to get a ticket, or simply found out about this special performance too late, fear not, for you needn’t have been there to feel its effects. Those energies are still out there, running rampant like a Rivers soprano line, if not slinking stealthily like a Motian brushstroke, into the most hidden recesses of our consciousness. Just listen, and you might hear them in the wind.