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Critical Mass

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iTunes Review

If nothing else, the veteran jazz bassist Dave Holland sure knows how to form an ensemble. Gracing his quintet on Critical Mass are several esteemed members of the jazz community, including saxophonist Chris Potter, trombonist Robin Eubanks, and vibe and marimba player Steve Nelson. (Drummer Nate Smith is the relative baby of the bunch.) There’s a strong cohesion and fluidity at work across these eight engaging new compositions--four by Holland and one by each of the other players. The spare, slinky, gently loping “Easy Did It,” written by Holland, truly showcases the band’s interplay. Potter and Eubanks twirl their horn lines together like wisteria around a fence, and Nelson is given a chance to stretch out on marimba. Potter’s “Vicissitudes” is a nifty little piece with a skipping, Latin-tinged rhythm and a showcase for Smith’s adroit percussion. “The Leak,” a Smith original, has subtle elements of blues and funk while Holland’s “Secret Garden” is an atmospheric, impressionistic collage that once again highlights the silky interaction among the players. Holland is his usual nimble self--both fleet-footed and rock-solid--but in the end, it’s Nelson’s work on vibes and marimba that gives the music its distinctive sound.

Customer Reviews

Adventures in jazz

Dave Holland is not merely a superb bass player, he is an adventurous one. This spirit of adventure leads him to collaborate in an amazingly different number of contexts, recording with musicians as diverse as Gary Burton and Paris-based oud player Anouar Brahim. It is not at all surprising that he should choose an unusual lineup of instruments for his quintet: saxophone, trombone, vibes, bass, drums. The resulting sound is a breath of fresh air, and like little else in your music collection. Of course, it helps that each of the players is skilled and imaginitive, and that Holland is a strong composer. You can check out the selections yourself, but the mood is both mellow and energetic. I might have preferred the a little more energy and a little less relaxation, but I've only listened to it twice and may change my mind over time. The iTunes bonus track is great, and in this case more is more. Four stars for now (which very few albums get from me), but could go to five in the future.


This group is truly phenomenal! There is a great sense of empathetic creativity within the group, each members creativity directly effected and influenced unconciously by the individual talents of the group. My favorite thing about this album is the amount of trust-between the soloists and the "rhythm section", it's always strong, making it easy for things to go way out and just land hard right where it's supposed to...beautiful.

This is not your fathers swing

Very creative writting and solid playing on this recording. Definatley worth cheking out

Critical Mass, Dave Holland Quintet
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Customer Ratings