Billy Hart: Shadow Dance
Billy Hart (drums)
Enchance (A&M CD 0818)
Hannibal Marvin Peterson (trumpet).
Composed by Dave Holland.
Recorded: New York, February 24 or March 3, 1977
Rating: 100/100 (learn more)
One of the best tracks on a great album, "Shadow Dance" is an inspired summation of modern jazz's ways and means circa 1977. Dave Holland's compositionówith its asymmetrical melody, opaque harmonies, and modal solo sectionóis reminiscent of such Herbie Hancock-penned tunes as "Eye of the Hurricane" and "The Sorcerer."' The soloists are superb. Each assumes a unique character that contributes to the overall drama. Oliver Lake on alto sax is angular and high-strung; Dewey Redman on tenor sax is at different times calm, evasive, and yearning. The great pianist Don Pullen is the single-minded intellectual, spinning lines of great complexity without regard for convention. Drummer and leader Billy Hart references freedom without succumbing to anarchy; his playing is explosive, impassioned, and endlessly varied. Holland combines the strong swing of a top-notch straight-ahead bassist with the facility of a LaFaro-influenced soloist. He and Hart generate enormous power, which feeds the soloists, lifting them to ever-greater heights.
In a way, this music seemed to point the way to an accommodation between straight-ahead and free jazz. That such conciliation never really took hold doesn't diminish the significance of Hart & Co.'s accomplishment. This music stands on its own with the highest distinction.
Reviewer: Chris Kelsey