Dave Holland Octet - Pathways

Album review. The debut recording of Dave Holland's octet, based on his regular quintet with three added horns.


Recorded live in 2009 at Birdland, NY.

Release date: March 23rd 2010

Availability: CD, MP3 Download

Dave Holland: Pathways cover

'Pathways' is the debut recording of Dave Holland's octet. It is based on his regular quintet with three added horns.

As Dave Holland writes*:

'I had always loved the sound of the Duke Ellington small groups, often with a 5 horn front-line plus the rhythm section. The combination of 2 brass and 3 saxes gives access to a wide range of textures and colors and allows a composer to evoke the sound of a big band or create the more intimate sound of a small group.

'I also wanted a project that would include at its core my regular working quintet (Robin Eubanks, Steve Nelson, Chris Potter, and Nate Smith) and build the music around what we had already developed as a small group. The additional horns gave me some different compositional options but equally important, the personal sound, style and creative approaches of Antonio Hart (alto), Gary Smulyan (baritone) and Alex Sipiagin (trumpet) add a great deal to the creative mix.'

The band is thus: Dave Holland (bass), Chris Potter (tenor, soprano sax), Antonio Hart (alto sax), Gary Smulyan (baritone), Alex Sipigian (trumpet), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Steve Nelson (vibes, marimba), Nate Smith (drums).

The album was recorded live at Birdland, NY in 2009.

Dave Holland's writing is the main feature:

'I often revisit compositions I have recorded at different stages in my career. Over the years, one of the things that has changed is my approach to playing them. Writing the song is just a starting point and after that the improvisor develops different ways of interpreting it. There are some compositions that seem to remain relevant and that continue to evolve.'

'Shadow Dance' harks back to Dave Holland's first album, 'Jumpin' In' while 'How's Never' is from the Gateway trio era with Jack DeJohnette and John Abercrombie. As with the remaining Dave Holland compositions, the expanded sound palette of the eight-piece band is used to great effect.

Three tracks from the album can be listened to in full here:

Of the non-Holland pieces, Chris Potter contributes the ballad 'Sea of Marmara', Alex Sipigian contributes the latin-influenced 'Wind Dance'.

This is wonderful, full-bodied jazz that uses the increased possibilities of the octet format to the full.

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Dave Holland: Pathways cover

Four tracks from the Dave Holland Quintet release from their 2007 world tour 'Archive '07' can be listened to here:

*Dave Holland website

Related reviews:

Dave Holland Quartet 'Extensions'

Dave Holland Quintet 'Critical Mass'

The Monterey Quartet 'Live At The 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival'

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Alison Lewis said...

I work at Mixed Media, a publicity and promotion company for music artists. Several of my clients are Jazz musicians. Any way I can get your address so I can send you the CDs for a review on your site? Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you!


100 Greatest Jazz Albums said...

Alison - Thanks for your post. A 'Contact Us' feature is now available (in the left hand column) so that you can email. Look forward to hearing from you!