The Jazz.com Blog
September 10, 2009 · 0 comments
If ever the phrase “last but not least” was fitting, this concert applies. Last act of the Tanglewood Festival, it was musically possibly the most exciting. Dave Holland, a powerfully assertive bass player and highly original composer, might be fairly characterized as the Charles Mingus of the 21st century. The simultaneously driving, visceral grooves, and intellectually intricate meters and harmonies of his compositions challenge the ears of his listeners, the capabilities of his musicians, and the parameters of ensemble jazz.
The monstrous kick and virility of Holland’s bass led the band into an opening tune pulsating in 6/4 with hits from the brass section as the woodwinds mounted a counter line toward Alex Sipiagian’s trumpet solo. The slippery runs of the elegant funk “How’s Never?” opened out onto contrapuntal and single line figures supporting Jaleel Shaw’s fluent alto solo over the insistent propulsion of drummer Nate Smith. The tightly scored horn lines of a Chris Potter composition threw the spaces and harmonic choices of Steve Nelson’s vibe solo into bold relief, and the tune closed in a cluster of unexpected bell tone intervals. “Blue Jean,” a twelve-bar blues, featured Gary Smulyan, who tapped into the melancholy mood of this tune.
In “Shadow Dance,” opening as a 12/8 shuffle with figures of 3, the African-influenced polyrhythms pushed dramatic horn lines toward the rising lines of Robin Eubanks’s solo. After Chris Potter pushed hard on tenor, Nate Smith’s explosive solo lifted him off his seat like a fighter throwing punches. He brought the beat back down to a fatback, and the horns wrapped the tune up.
With Tuesday, the crowds, and the sun, left, reminding this writer that the most important testimony to the power of jazz—live music—is paradoxically its most ephemeral element.
This blog entry posted by Roanna Forman. For links to the rest of Forman’s coverage of the festival, click here.