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Album Review

Almost two years after the issue of the fine Prime Directive, Dave Holland brings his quintet back intact for another go at his particular brand of elegant jazz-making. One of the finest characteristics of Holland as a leader is his insistence on putting his bandmates out front. Thus, along with the five Holland compositions, there is one each by trombonist Robin Eubanks, saxophonist Chris Potter, vibist Steve Nelson, and drummer Billy Kilson. Eubanks' "Global Citizen" opens the proceedings and Holland soon shifts the first solo to Nelson, who traipses the edges of the rhythm. As the horn players re-enter, the bluesy flavor of bop enters with them and Nelson has to move outside into a Latin vein to keep the tune from making him disappear. Elsewhere, on Holland's "Shifting Sands," he uses three harmonic figures to create an Eastern-tinged mood akin to the folk music of North Africa. The bassist takes the first solo, weaving a subtle cross section of microphonics and open notes in the lower register, before Nelson colors his staccatos with subtle blues and grays as the band kicks in to signal Eubanks and Potter to engage in a tightly wrought but easy-feeling musical conversation. Not for Nothin' is all about compelling music; there isn't a spare or slack moment on the set, but as the band takes it out with the progressive post-boppism of Holland's "Cosmosis," it's clear to see how finely wrought this ensemble is: they anticipate each other even in the studio while playing the chart. There are moments of dovetailing here between Eubanks and Potter where the overlap is so slight yet so profound it could never have been left to chance, only to close listening. And there are spaces within the solos where Kilson signals Holland and then Nelson for a little double timing and opening of the mood to allow for Potter to blow through the changes in the tune before Nelson makes them disappear completely. Whoa! The only regret this reviewer has about Not for Nothin' is that it isn't a double CD. This is postmodern poetic singing at its finest. Who said jazz is a dead art form? Let he or she who has the ears to hear, hear; the Dave Holland Quintet is carrying the banner of creative music in the jazz tradition in the 21st century.

Not for Nothin', Billy Kilson
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