Recorded at Power Station, New York, in September 1989
Original release date: September 1989
Re-release date: August 26th 2008
Availabilty: CD, MP3 download, iTunes
German label ECM has moved to embrace the digital culture with the repackaging and release (at budget price on disc and on MP3) of much of its back catalogue as the series ECM Touchtones. This should be a real opportunity to engage with a list that includes music by Pat Metheny, Keith Jarrett, Paul Motian, Collin Walcott, Bill Frisell, Jack Dejohnette, Jan Garbarek and Dave Holand amongst many others worth hearing. However, time has not been kind to all of this music which, with much of it in the cool jazz / world music slot demanded by the label, can sound decidedly past its sell by date.
Dave Holland's "Extensions" is a notable exception, delivering intelligent, upbeat, post bop jazz with real power, remaining close enough to the jazz tradition to have lasting relevance.
The band - Steve Coleman (alto sax), Kevin Eubanks (guitar), Dave Holland (bass) and Marvin "Smitty" Smith (drums) - delivers rock-inspired energy spiraling off Marvin "Smitty" Smith's upfront drumming and Kevin Eubanks' impressive guitar playing. Steve Coleman brings his deep-rooted jazz sensibility and intelligence to bear, blowing solos of real creativity. Dave Holland's base forms a solid yet agile centre around which the music can flow. Despite the ECM label, this is high octane, full-blooded jazz by any other name.
"Nemesis" and "Color Of Mind", the two Kevin Eubanks compositions, open and close the album. The Kevin Eubanks solo on "Nemesis" is worthy of special attention. "Color Of Mind" is uptempo and angular.
"Processional" and "The Oracle" are both compositions by Dave Holland. These are more introspective and provide clear space for Steve Coleman, Dave Holland and Kevin Eubanks to solo expressively. "The Oracle" makes the most concession to ECM taste with 'African-sounding' guitar effects and rhythms but this is a small price to pay for the excellence of the music throughout.
Meanwhile, Steve Coleman also provides two compositions, "Black Hole" and "101 Degrees Fahrenheit (Slow Meltdown)" that get down to the essence of jazz. "Black Hole" is bluesy, funky and lowdown while "101 Degrees Fahrenheit (Slow Meltdown)" is ballad-like and sinewy.
A very good album at a bargain price.
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