DAVE HOLLAND QUINTET
For 15 years bassist Dave Holland has led a band as visionary as any in jazz, but until Points of View (ECM) garnered him his first Grammy nomination last year, not so many people knew it. When Wynton Marsalis began the rearguard action that would dominate jazz in the 80s, Holland grasped the progressivism dormant in this return to roots. He settled into the familiar song structures that neoclassicism had repopularized, even orchestrating the trumpet, trombone, and alto sax in his pianoless quintet like a little big band. But he also brilliantly applied lessons from fusion, free jazz, and world music, creating a collection of masterpieces (most notably Jumpin’ In and Seeds of Time, both on ECM) that presaged the 90s synthesis of once incompatible styles. And for my money, he’s still exactly what he has been for the last two and a half decades: the best jazz bassist in the world. He combines the resonant purity of Charlie Haden with quicksilver finger work, and he’s left his mark on an unholy diversity of projects–from Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew to a bop trio led by octogenarian pianist Hank Jones to Anthony Braxton’s quartet to contemporary fusion lineups led by Herbie Hancock and Michael Brecker. And at the 1992 Montreal Jazz Festival, Holland left a mark all by himself, playing a set of solo bass improvisations so inventive and varied that the 70 minutes flew by like a conference of birds. Holland has maintained the concept and integrity of his quintet despite lineup changes–trumpet has given way to vibraphone, for instance–and most of the cast of Points of View follows him to Chicago for this gig: drummer Billy Kilson, well-traveled and sensitive vibist Steve Nelson, and trombonist Robin Eubanks, who’s been contributing his focused, exhilarating solos since 1987. Chris Potter, a protean young veteran with finely etched ideas and a sculpted sound, fills saxist Steve Wilson’s chair. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 and 10 PM, next Friday and Saturday, March 12 and 13, 9 and 11 PM, and next Sunday, March 14, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473. NEIL TESSER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Don Hunstein.