Sunday, June 10, 2018

Dave Holland - Uncharted Territories (Dare2, 2018)

The great bassist and composer Dave Holland may be best known from the compelling mainstream quintets he has lead, and by his early association with Miles Davis. But he has vast experience in the more experimental realms, in associations with Sam Rivers, Anthony Braxton and most importantly for this album, saxophonist and free improvisation pioneer Evan Parker. This is a fascinating two disc studio album that brings Holland together with Parker, percussionist Ches Smith, and pianist Craig Taborn. They shift and move into varying configurations to keep in the music fresh, and they results are positive, playing experimental jazz with confidence and authority. "Thought on Earth" opens gradually with bowed bass and vibes creating a hushed atmosphere, with Parker's saxophone playing soft melodic swirls. Spare piano and the switch to plucked bass gradually changes the music as it becomes louder and more frenetic, coalescing into an exciting collective improvisation. There is a spirited and quickly moving aspect to "Q and A" with vibes playing off against piano as the saxophone makes filigrees of its own, buckling down into a fast and nimble three way improvisation, that darts in unexpected directions. "QT12" has long tones of saxophone paired with gentle and evanescent piano playing and thick elastic bass. Things evolve quickly however, and we are soon faced with a very exciting quartet improvisation that is fast and loud, moving into classical free jazz territory in a fresh and interesting way, with Holland's muscular bass powering the band and allowing Parker to take flight when needed with ample support. The outlier "Organ Vibes V1" is quite interesting in developing unexpected textures from the two instruments which aren't often found together. The music slowly comes together across a drone from the organ as the vibes chime patiently, developing a sustained ringing sound that is ceremonial in nature, before they come together for an eerie and haunting duet section. "QT5" has the band developing a sound of freedom and spare interaction that gradually grows more intense pith the piano bass and drums offering an ever shifting complement to Parker's swathes of saxophone. The spaciousness that is at the heart of this improvisation allows the musicians to move in their own space and interact with each other as their roles overlap. The duet "Tenor Bass W1" is a highlight of the album, with these two veteran musicians showing their masterful tones and command of their instruments in a sympatico improvisation. "Piano Bass Percussion T2" allows the rhythm section to take the stand and explore in a wide open arena, that makes for scattered and skittish rhythm where the results ebb and flow showing the way in which three instruments have an effect on each other in an almost Newtonian sense. The album is wrapped up with "QW1" a ten minute summation that progresses slowly by degrees, with spare notes and tones hanging in open space, which ever so slowly gets filled in with resonant bass, shimmering cymbals and long arcing tones of saxophone, finally resulting in a collective improvisation of rare grace. Uncharted Territories -

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