Though Richie Beirach isn't obscure, he isn't as well-known as he should be. A flexible pianist, Beirach can be quite lyrical on standards, although being cerebral and abstract also comes easy to him. One of the more cerebral, unsentimental albums he recorded in the '90s was Trust, a fine post-bop trio date boasting Dave Holland on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums.
Dave Holland's debut as a leader, Conference of the Birds, doesn't seem to get its proper due outside of avant-garde circles; perhaps, when discussing the greats, Holland's name simply doesn't spring to mind as immediately. Whatever the case, Conference of the Birds is one of the all-time avant-garde jazz classics, incorporating a wide spectrum of '60s innovations. Part of the reason it works so well is the one-time-only team-up of two avant-garde legends: the fiery, passionate Sam Rivers and the cerebral Anthony Braxton; they complement and contrast one another in energizing fashion throughout.
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.
Kenny Wheeler is among the most lyrically commanding yet daring of modern trumpeters. There's a palpable ease of execution, and a poignant human quality, to his distinctive timbre, as on the title tune where his fluttering descents into the lower register, the cracked yet powerful vocal inflections, and the sudden emission of high harmonics suggest a whistling column of air slowly leaking from a balloon. And from the moody Spanish tinge of "Present Past" to the raga-ish Nordic gravity of "Unti," alto player Lee Konitz matches Wheeler's lyric ease with a singing sound and rhythmic buoyancy all his own.
What does one do when his initial album as a big-band leader sweeps up almost every award in sight and rockets straight to the top of the best-seller list? If he's bassist Dave Holland, he goes back to the drawing board and works Overtime to make sure his second one is not only as good as but in some ways even better than the first. Having listened closely, this reviewer's candid appraisal is "mission accomplished."
GRAMMY nominated - 2005 - Jazz instrumental
What Now? continues Wheeler’s exploration of a drumless modern jazz approach and features him on flugelhorn only. Taylor joins Wheeler again for this project, in addition to other longtime musical collaborators, bassist Dave Holland and tenor saxophonist Chris Potter. What Now? features eight original compositions by Wheeler and displays a fluidity of band interplay that comes from the personal working history these four great musicians have of each other, as Ira Gitler explains in the album’s liner notes. Wheeler adds, “Strong players as these three are an orchestra in themselves. You give them a piece of paper and you don’t have to say anything.”
Talk about all-star groups – this quintet date matches together vibraphonist Gary Burton with pianist Chick Corea, guitarist Pat Metheny, bassist Dave Holland, and drummer Roy Haynes. Burton and Corea have recorded frequently through the years, while Metheny gained some early fame working with Burton; Holland was with Corea in Miles Davis' late-'60s group, and Haynes was formerly with both Burton and Corea. However, not all of these musicians had played together before – Corea had never worked with Metheny previously, nor Burton with Holland. No matter, the masterful players fit together quite well…