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Dave Holland Big Band
What Goes Around
ECM CD 1777, 2002

Big band comes around

Dan Macintosh, 9 February 2003

In lesser hands, big band album such as this one could have amounted to a bite much too large for any mere mortal to chew. Let's not forget: bigger is not always better, because oftentimes big crowds of musicians can lead directly to busy, complicated and ultimately unappealing recordings. Such is not the case with bass player Dave Holland's new big band CD, however. What Goes Around is better described as Holland's Expanded Band Project, since he's added quite a few players to his solid core quintet of Chris Potter (saxophone), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Steve Nelson (vibraphone) and Billy Kilson (drums). "What Goes Around" merely gives Holland's previously recorded compositions fuller sounding arrangements, without sacrificing the previously established tightness of his quintet.

The album's title track offers a good example of this project's enlarged interplay at work, as it rotates in a distinctly predatory motion, like animals circling for the kill. While the rhythm section creates a stabilizing force, horns dart in and out at the center with teeth barred.

Naturally, the whole takes center stage over the various individual parts in this larger musical unit setting. Nevertheless, vibraphonist Steve Nelson shines particularly brightly in many places, and nowhere more luminously than on "Blues For C.M." There are moments on this track where it sounds like the rest of the group is sitting back - just as the listeners are - and watching in amazement as Nelson goes on one of his his effortlessly swinging flights.

Holland's playing is conspicuously absent on this release. In the same way an architect doesn't splatter his mug all over the tiles of his buildings, this bassist/composer allows his compositions and players to act as his spokespersons instead. And ever so quietly, Holland has created a nearly perfect musical circle. What Goes Around is one dizzily beautiful spin.

Glenn says...  Dan is right about vibist Steve Nelson. He is one of the best kept secrets in jazz, probably because he rarely leads a group of his own.

performers  Robin Eubanks, trombone; Antonio Hart, flute, alto sax; Steve Nelson, vibraphone; Gary Smulyan, baritone sax; Earl Gardner, trumpet, flugelhorn; Mark Gross, alto sax; Andre Hayward, trombone; Billy Kilson, drums; Josh Roseman, trombone; Alex Sipiagin, trumpet, flugelhorn; Duane Eubanks, trumpet, flugelhorn; Dave Holland, bass

production  Produced by Manfred Eicher; recorded by James Farber and Aya Takemura.

songs  Triple Dance · Blues for C.M. · The Razor's Edge · What Goes Around · Upswing · First Snow · Shadow Dance

Copyright © 2003 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.