Sunday, April 10, 2005

Dave Holland Big Band Part 2

If Big Band were an extreme sport, this band would be a gold medal quality Olympic team. Lori and I attended the early show at Yoshi's on Friday hoping to stay for 2 sets. Both shows were sold out solid.

I must admit I know very little about Dave Holland and contemporary big band music. Checking out his discography, I am embarrassed at my ignorance. If nothing else, I should know that he played with Miles on Live/Evil and Bitches Brew. Steady exposure from Lori and friends and the Foothill College Big Band has enlightened me. Let's move forward.

Chris Potter - tenor saxophone
Antonio Hart - alto saxophone
Mark Gross - alto saxophone
Gary Smulyan - baritone saxophone
Robin Eubanks - trombone
Josh Roseman - trombone
Jonathan Arons - trombone
Taylor Haskins - trumpet
Duane Eubanks - trumpet
Alex Sasha Sipiagin - trumpet
Steve Nelson - vibraphone &marimba
Nate Smith - drums
Dave Holland - double bass

The band is the tightest, in tune big band I have ever seen. Even as the soloists spiked out in their own directions, the band moved and played as one, harmonically and rhythmically. I could not imagine a richer tone.

The saxophone section alone displayed extraordinary skill and talent. Every chord, every melody and every solo was spellbinding. It is difficult to single anyone out but since I love the baritone sax, let me mention Gary Smulyan. His sound and musicality were as gratifying as his playing ergonomics were fascinating.

Nate Smith on drums is like a metronome from another dimension. A really good dimension were rhythm is the life force. (Maybe I have been watching too much anime.) You can see that this man walks, talks and sleeps in the groove, locked into the odd meters and dynamics of Dave Holland's mind and he drives this band like an Italian sports car.

Indeed, the whole band is tuned into Mr Holland as he stands center stage, captain at the helm of this ship, playing impeccable bass. His only directions are to start and stop and his music just pours out of this band and over the audience.

I partially expected to grow tired of a lot of wailing and even though enjoying the show, I would be happy when it was over. Far from it. When Dave announced the final song of the first set, Free for All, I was alarmed and dismayed of how quickly the time had gone by and sopped up every note. When it was over, the entire audience immediately jumped to their feet, clapping and screaming. I am serious.

Something else to note. I have been to a lot of shows at Yoshi's over the years. This band attracts an interesting and eclectic audience. Enough said about them. The band itself enjoyed the evening as much as the audience did. Also of note: You may recognize Jonathan Arons as the Dancing Trombone Player. Lori just had to meet him and is tickled pink that she did. We are very glad to have caught this great show.


Blogger Joe M said...

You're right, this is an exceptional group. I missed the Yoshis sets, but saw them premier some of the music on their new cd a few years ago at Monterey. You should really check out some of Dave's recent recordings with his Quintet (Chris Potter, Robin Eubanks, Steve Nelson, Holland, and Billy Kilson). It's interesting to compare the two groups, I'm sure you'll like the 5tet too.

2:20 PM, April 16, 2005  

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