Broadening Musical Horizons

Pass It On (Dare2/Emarcy Records)
Dave Holland Sextet

By Martin Kasdan Jr.

Over the years, bassist/composer/bandleader Dave Holland has recorded works as a leader which range from unaccompanied solo albums to big bands and everywhere in between. He continues to broaden his musical horizons with his new release, Pass It On. This is an exciting recording, which features Holland with trombonist Robin Eubanks, alto saxophonist Antonio Hart, trumpeter Alex "Sasha" Sipiagin, pianist Mulgrew Miller and drummer Eric Harland. Hart has appeared here in Louisville several times in the past year, and it is great to hear his contributions to this album.

The disc opens with the roaring "The Sum of All Parts," composed by Eubanks, and the only non-Holland song on this date. "Fast Track" is just that, fast and swinging. "Lazy Snake" opens with an all-too-brief bass solo before the other musicians join in for this relatively laid-back piece.

"Double Vision" and the following "Equality" are among several pieces which have been previously recorded by Holland, albeit with smaller ensembles. He seems to have relished the challenge of reinterpreting his earlier works, as these sound as if they could have been written "yesterday" rather than decades ago. On the latter piece, between the statement and the conclusion, the solos are delicate, with minimal backing.

"Modern Times" has a loose, Latin sensibility to it. "Rivers Run" is dedicated to Sam Rivers, the composer and multi-instrumentalist who played a key role on Holland's early Conference ofthe Birdsalbum. It unfolds slowly and majestically, incorporating more outside playing as it progresses. "Processional" lives up to its title, and has more of a "little big band" feel than some of the other performances here.

The album closes with the title track. It is dedicated to the late New Orleans drummer Ed Blackwell, who Holland notes was not only a great musician, but a superb teacher who would "pass it on," like a Griot. True to Blackwell's roots, it has a strong New Orleans vibe to it.

This is a CD which expertly balances straight-ahead and progressive jazz styles, and will likely become another in a line of award-winning albums by Holland.

His website is www.daveholland.com, and the label's is www.emarcy.com.