Monday, October 03, 2005

Dave Holland - Dream Of The Elders

Dave Holland Quartet
Dream Of The Elders
ECM 1572
1996 (Recorded March 1995)

1. The Winding Way 11:57
2. The Lazy Snake 12:28
3. Claressence 7:29
4. Equality 7:12
5. Ebb & Flo 12:02
6. Dream Of The Elders 11:10
7. Second Thoughts 8:06
8. Equality 6:40

All compositions by Dave Holland

Recorded at Power Station, New York, March 1995
Produced by Manfred Eicher


DAVE HOLLAND, double-bass
STEVE NELSON, vibraphone, marimba
ERIC PERSON, alto and soprano saxophones
CASSANDRA WILSON, vocal on ‘Equality’

What I Say

This is a great record. No doubt about it. You could simply leave it at that and let the music do the talking, but let’s try and say something more. I’m fairly new to Dave Holland’s music, but what I’ve heard so far has blown me away. After the ‘best of’ compilation rarum:x, I was sure I wanted to hear more, but what? This was a bit of a random choice – made slightly easier by the presence of Steve Nelson’s vibes – I’ve not heard of Steve but vibes always sound great in a jazz context.

A bit about Dave – he was born in Wolverhampton in 1946 and early in his career played, most notably, with Miles Davis. He can be heard on In A Silent Way and Bitches’ Brew. With this background of innovation in jazz, it comes as no surprise that he continues to play in differing styles up to this day. His bass playing on this album is excellent – miles away from the ‘ECM sound’ (droning synths and scandinavian folk tunes, usually). Sometimes he’s laid back (Equality, Lazy Snake) sometimes frantic (Ebb & Flo) but always driving. You can tell who’s band it is. In fact, listening to the album, as I am now, on a set of very small speakers (it’s lunchtime at work) with much of the bass inaudible makes this album far less interesting. Actually he’s doing his solo in ‘Ebb & Flo’ right now – amazing, even through terrible speakers. You could even call him funky, on the basis of this tune and the opener, ‘The Winding Way’ which has an outstanding bass intro.

The other musicians play very well, too. Steve Nelson is an excellent vibes player, with some great solos. I’m not usually a fan of soprano sax, but I’ll make an exception in this case as Eric Person uses his melodically without being too unpleasantly screechy. I’m not much of a fan of jazz vocalists either, but am willing to put this aside for Cassandra Wilson’s performance on ‘Equality’.

It’s interesting to contrast this album with the much earlier ‘Tune In!’ by Karl Berger (1969), also featuring Dave Holland in a quartet with vibes. That outing is much freer and in some ways sounds as if it was recorded after ‘Dream of the Elders’.

What The Critics Say


Stylewise, the music on this CD sounds much closer to a mid-'60s Blue Note release than what one might expect from ECM. Although the general sound of the ensembles is light, the music is often filled with inner heat, a little reminiscent of a Wayne Shorter record. Altoist Eric Person and vibraphonist Steve Nelson work well together, bassist Dave Holland takes plenty of solo space, drummer Gene Jackson keeps the momentum flowing and guest vocalist Cassandra Wilson does a fine job on Maya Angelou's poem "Equality." Holland's originals have plenty of variety in moods while close attention is paid to dynamics. A satisfying and thought-provoking session.


Dave Holland Links

Dave's website;
ECM records;

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