Holland, Dave Feat. Evan Parker / Craig Taborn / Ches Smith
Uncharted Territories [2 CDs]
Reuniting bassist Dave Holland with saxophonist Evan Parker, a longtime friend from their early days in London, and joined by Craig Taborn on piano and electronics, and Ches Smith on percussion, as the group performs as a quartet and also in a variety of permutations of duo and trio configurations, in a set of rich and informed dialogs of masterful skill.
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Label: Dare2 Records
Catalog ID: CD-DARE-010
Squidco Product Code: 25905
Format: 2 CDs
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold 3 Panels
Recorded at NRS Studio, in Catskill, New York, on May 2nd and 3rd, 2017.
Evan Parker-tenor saxophone
Craig Taborn-piano, organ, keyboards, electronics
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• Show Bio for Dave Holland
"Dave Holland is a bassist, composer, bandleader whose passion for musical expression of all styles, and dedication to creating consistently innovative music ensembles have propelled a professional career of more than 50 years, and earned him top honors in his field including multiple Grammy awards and the title of NEA Jazz Master in 2017.
Holland stands as a guiding light on acoustic and electric bass, having grown up in an age when musical genres-jazz, rock, funk, avant-garde, folk, electronic music, and others-blended freely together to create new musical pathways. He was a leading member of a generation that helped usher jazz bass playing from its swing and post-bop legacy to the vibrancy and multidiscipline excitement of the modern era, extending the instrument's melodic, expressive capabilities. Holland's virtuosic technique and rhythmic feel, informed by an open-eared respect of a formidable spread of styles and sounds, is widely revered and remains much in demand. To date, His playing can be heard on hundreds of recordings, with more than thirty as a leader under his own name.
Holland first rose to prominence in groundbreaking groups led by such legends as Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Sam Rivers, Betty Carter, and Anthony Braxton-as well as collaborations with the likes of Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Jack DeJohnette, and John McLaughlin. Carrying such an enviable history Holland does with little fanfare and extreme humility; to him what matters most is the immediate musical project at hand. Fittingly, he is today more celebrated for the bands that he continues to assemble, record and perform with-ensembles which range from duos and trios to big bands, and often feature musicians like Steve Coleman, Robin and Kevin Eubanks, Jason Moran, Chris Potter, Eric Harland, among many others who were bound for their own headline-status. The consistent priority connecting all of Holland's projects is an abiding sense of challenge-to himself, his fellow musicians, and his listeners. His comments on this driving force in his career serve as a personal credo:
"My take on the relationship with the audience is that you don't want to underestimate their ability to hear the music. You want to be as clear as possible in your musical statement and not be obscure in terms of what it is you're doing. At the same time, you don't want to compromise on your creative ambitions because that's the driving force that's going to develop the music and keep it relevant for me. Outside of the audience, there's the aspect of me needing to be interested in what I'm doing and be stimulated by it in a challenging situation which is going to continue to allow me to grow as a player and composer."
Holland was born in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom in 1946, and even before reaching puberty played ukulele and then guitar, having fallen under the spell of skiffle music like most British youth during the 1950s and early '60s. As an adolescent, he switched over to the low end of the string family, an uncle fabricating his first "tea-chest bass" out of the thin wooden crates in which tea was shipped. The bass ultimately proved the instrument that steered him away from a working-class destiny. At the ripe age of 14, he began playing R&B, rock and pop tunes for dances and in clubs with local bands, and visiting U.S. artists like Roy Orbison, Chet Atkins, and Johnnie Ray. By his late teens Holland began exploring an expanding palette of jazz styles and it was clear that music was Holland's calling.
The search for more opportunities, experience, and advanced music education led the young bassist to journey from The Midlands to work in London in 1964, where he began to study with James Edward Merrett, the principal bassist with the London Philharmonic. A year later, Merrett recommended him for a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Holland was on his way.
The mid-'60s were an exciting time to be in "Swinging" London: the U.K. was pulling itself free from an extended postwar, economic decline and a whirlwind of fresh, cultural ideas (especially musical) was in the air. Holland was soon exploring more advanced classical and avant-garde music, as well as the work of jazz bass masters from Ray Brown, Leroy Vinegar and Charles Mingus, to Scott LaFaro, Jimmy Garrison, Ron Carter and Gary Peacock. He began to perform regularly with bands fronted by leaders at the cutting edge of the U.K. jazz scene: Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott, Chris McGregor, Evan Parker, and John Surman.
Holland was a mere 19 years old when he began to appear at Ronnie Scott's jazz club in London's Soho district, supporting touring jazz veterans like Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins and Joe Henderson. That was the venue in which famed trumpeter Miles Davis-who was about to transition from purely acoustic music to more electric instrumentation in 1968, including rock and funk influences-first heard Holland. Davis asked him to take over the bass chair in his band at a time when generations of musicians and music fans were intensely focused on every step the trumpeter was taking.
Joining Davis's groundbreaking, semi-electric band was the catapult that launched Holland's career to the international stage. As the world watched and listened, he contributed to albums that pointed the way to the future-Filles De Kilimanjaro, In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew-and performed in jazz clubs and rock festivals, helping to lay the groundwork for the rise of Fusion jazz, an important member of a brotherhood of innovators adept at older and newer jazz vocabularies. While still with Davis, Holland gigged and recorded with other musicians as well, including the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Chick Corea, and Joe Henderson.
Holland left Davis's employ in 1970 and immediately co-founded Circle-the influential if short-lived free-jazz quartet, with Corea, Anthony Braxton and Barry Altschul. After the breakup of Circle in late '71, Holland found himself working in bands led by the likes of Stan Getz, Thelonious Monk, Braxton, and initiating an enduring relationship with saxophonist/bandleader Sam Rivers.
By 1972, Holland relocated to upstate New York, and began recording under his own name, beginning a long-standing association with the Munich-based ECM label. It was during this period of re-establishment that he began participating with vibraphonist Karl Berger's Creative Music Studio, and co-founded the Gateway Trio with John Abercrombie and Jack DeJohnette. Holland later joined Betty Carter's group for a year, and served as a sideman on a wide range of recording projects that featured blues singer/guitarist Bonnie Raitt, vocalist Maria Muldaur, and bluegrass heavyweights John Hartford, Norman Blake, and Vassar Clements. In '77, Holland began performing solo bass concerts, which led to the studio album Emerald Tears, which he later followed with the solo cello recording Life Cycle in '83.
As the '80s began, Holland stepped forward with a working band of his own for the first time. The Dave Holland Quintet was comprised of alto saxophonist Steve Coleman, trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, trombonist Julian Priester, and drummer Steve Ellington. Their 1984 debut was well-received critically, and initiated a long run of groups that varied in musical approach-smaller lineups focusing on lengthy improvisations, larger ensembles dealing with intricate arrangements- and evolved as new arrivals, like drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith and guitarist Kevin Eubanks, who all became part of Holland's creative circle.
In 1990, Holland debuted Extensions-a quartet album featuring Kevin Eubanks, Coleman and Smith-that was voted Album of the Year by Downbeat magazine. A year later, on the same week, he recorded World Trio, featuring Eubanks on acoustic guitar and percussionist Mino Cinelu, and Phase Space, a duo album with Steve Coleman. These were followed in '93 by Holland's third solo effort, Ones All (both World Trio and Ones All were originally released on the Intuition label.)
By '97, the Dave Holland Quintet included a mix of younger and veteran players, with vibraphonist Steve Nelson and trombonist Robin Eubanks (Kevin's brother) alongside saxophonist Chris Potter and drummer Billy Kilson (and later Nate Smith.) While most of his creative choices as a bandleader are the result of feel and intuition, Holland admits a conscious decision when it comes to combining musicians of varying levels of experience. "I'm an equal opportunity employer. I don't think about anything to do with gender, race or age. I'm looking for the music. I listen to the music with my ears, but at the same time, I am also conscious of the fact that it's very important that there is intergenerational contact in the music. Older players should play with younger players and vice-versa so we have a chance to cross-pollinate our influences and backgrounds. This is how the music grows and expands."
In the 1990s, Holland's desire to focus on his compositional and arranging skills led to the formation of the Dave Holland Big Band, a group that that led to his notching two Grammy awards for Best Large Jazz Ensemble. Around the same time, he earned a third for an all-star quintet with old colleagues Burton, Corea, Pat Metheny and Roy Haynes. During the '90s, Holland also revisited a number of historic collaborations-including the Gateway Trio, and working with Herbie Hancock-and in the 2000s, Holland expanded his focus to new collaborations: the comically named "ScoLoHoFo" quartet featuring Joe Lovano, John Scofield, and Al Foster; as well as a duo with Jim Hall.
In 2003, Holland departed ECM and formed his own label, Dare2 Records, on which he has issued almost all of his recent recordings. In 2005, Dare2 premiered with Overtime, a big band project including music commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival. A year later, Critical Mass featured his Quintet (the first with Nate Smith), and Pass It On in 2008, a sextet performing arrangements in a mini-big band style (with, among others, Robin Eubanks, pianist Mulgrew Miller, drummer Eric Harland.)
In 2010, Holland released two recordings: the live octet album Pathways, and Hands, a duet with flamenco guitarist Pepe Habichuela. In 2013, Holland dug deeper into his Fusion roots, unveiling his quartet Prism with Harland, Kevin Eubanks, and keyboardist Craig Taborn; and a year later, Holland teamed up with pianist and longtime friend Kenny Barron to record The Art Of Conversation for the Blue Note label.
The remarkable rate at which Holland leads or collaborates his way into fresh and exciting projects proves he has no plans to diminish the range nor frequency of his creative drive. His band lineups reveal that his ear is still to the ground, listening for and recognizing fresh and deserving talent, and that many are the musicians who are happy to perform or record with him. As Holland prepares to celebrate his 70th year, he is currently playing with a new group, the Aziza quartet, co-founded with Harland, saxophonist Chris Potter, and guitarist Lionel Loueke.
As a leader and collaborator, Holland continues to tour the world and it comes as no surprise that he has and still serves the music in an educational role, having worked during the 1980s as artistic director of the Banff Centre's jazz summer program (Canada), and as a faculty member for two years at the New England Conservatory of Music in the '90s, where he still serves as an artist in residence (as he does at the Royal Academy of Music.) He has also been elected a Fellow of the Guildhall School-his alma mater-and has received honorary doctorates from Birmingham Conservatoire (UK), Berklee College of Music, and the New England Conservatory.
Most recently, Holland was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music (UK)-a rare honor as membership is limited to 300 living musicians-and he's been named a 2017 Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Over the years and through countless musical experiences, Holland has come to define his purpose as a musician-and he articulates it well: "I'm trying to create music that exists on multiple levels, such as simpler elements along with more complex elements. To me, a lot of great art, whether it's visual, musical or written, has an ability to do those things-to offer some fundamental truths that echo in people, yet at the same time, introduce them to a new way of looking at those fundamentals that gives them a little different perspective..."-Dave Holland Website (http://daveholland.com/about)
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• Show Bio for Evan Parker
"Evan Parker was born in Bristol in 1944 and began to play the saxophone at the age of 14. Initially he played alto and was an admirer of Paul Desmond; by 1960 he had switched to tenor and soprano, following the example of John Coltrane, a major influence who, he would later say, determined "my choice of everything". In 1962 he went to Birmingham University to study botany but a trip to New York, where he heard the Cecil Taylor trio (with Jimmy Lyons and Sunny Murray), prompted a change of mind. What he heard was "music of a strength and intensity to mark me for life ... l came back with my academic ambitions in tatters and a desperate dream of a life playing that kind of music - 'free jazz' they called it then."
Parker stayed in Birmingham for a time, often playing with pianist Howard Riley. In 1966 he moved to London, became a frequent visitor to the Little Theatre Club, centre of the city's emerging free jazz scene, and was soon invited by drummer John Stevens to join the innovative Spontaneous Music Ensemble which was experimenting with new kinds of group improvisation. Parker's first issued recording was SME's 1968 Karyobin, with a line-up of Parker, Stevens, Derek Bailey, Dave Holland and Kenny Wheeler. Parker remained in SME through various fluctuating line-ups - at one point it comprised a duo of Stevens and himself - but the late 1960s also saw him involved in a number of other fruitful associations.
He began a long-standing partnership with guitarist Bailey, with whom he formed the Music Improvisation Company and, in 1970, co-founded Incus Records. (Tony Oxley, in whose sextet Parker was then playing, was a third co-founder; Parker left Incus in the mid-1980s.) Another important connection was with the bassist Peter Kowald who introduced Parker to the German free jazz scene. This led to him playing on Peter Brötzmann's 1968 Machine Gun, Manfred Schoof's 1969 European Echoes and, in 1970, joining pianist Alex von Schlippenbach and percussionist Paul Lovens in the former's trio, of which he is still a member: their recordings include Pakistani Pomade, Three Nails Left, Detto Fra Di Noi, Elf Bagatellen and Physics.
Parker pursued other European links, too, playing in the Pierre Favre Quartet (with Kowald and Swiss pianist Irene Schweizer) and in the Dutch Instant Composers Pool of Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink. The different approaches to free jazz he encountered proved both a challenging and a rewarding experience. He later recalled that the German musicians favoured a "robust, energy-based thing, not to do with delicacy or detailed listening but to do with a kind of spirit-raising, a shamanistic intensity. And l had to find a way of surviving in the heat of that atmosphere ... But after a while those contexts became more interchangeable and more people were involved in the interactions, so all kinds of hybrid musics came out, all kinds of combinations of styles."
A vital catalyst for these interactions were the large ensembles in which Parker participated in the 1970s: Schlippenbach's Globe Unity Orchestra, Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath, Barry Guy's London Jazz Composers Orchestra (LJCO) and occasional big bands led by Kenny Wheeler. In the late 70s Parker also worked for a time in Wheeler's small group, recording Around Six and, in 1980, he formed his own trio with Guy and LJCO percussionist Paul Lytton (with whom he had already been working in a duo for nearly a decade). This group, together with the Schlippenbach trio, remains one of Parker's top musical priorities: their recordings include Tracks, Atlanta, Imaginary Values, Breaths and Heartbeats, The Redwood Sessions and At the Vortex. In 1980, Parker directed an Improvisers Symposium in Pisa and, in 1981, he organised a special project at London's Actual Festival. By the end of the 1980s he had played in most European countries and had made various tours to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. ln 1990, following the death of Chris McGregor, he was instrumental in organising various tributes to the pianist and his fellow Blue Notes; these included two discs by the Dedication Orchestra, Spirits Rejoice and lxesa.
Though he has worked extensively in both large and small ensembles, Parker is perhaps best known for his solo soprano saxophone music, a singular body of work that in recent years has centred around his continuing exploration of techniques such as circular breathing, split tonguing, overblowing, multiphonics and cross-pattern fingering. These are technical devices, yet Parker's use of them is, he says, less analytical than intuitive; he has likened performing his solo work to entering a kind of trance-state. The resulting music is certainly hypnotic, an uninterrupted flow of snaky, densely-textured sound that Parker has described as "the illusion of polyphony". Many listeners have indeed found it hard to credit that one man can create such intricate, complex music in real time. Parker's first solo recordings, made in 1974, were reissued on the Saxophone Solos CD in 1995; more recent examples are Conic Sections and Process and Reality, on the latter of which he does, for the first time, experiment with multi-tracking. Heard alone on stage, few would disagree with writer Steve Lake that "There is, still, nothing else in music - jazz or otherwise - that remotely resembles an Evan Parker solo concert."
While free improvisation has been Parker's main area of activity over the last three decades, he has also found time for other musical pursuits: he has played in 'popular' contexts with Annette Peacock, Scott Walker and the Charlie Watts big band; he has performed notated pieces by Gavin Bryars, Michael Nyman and Frederic Rzewski; he has written knowledgeably about various ethnic musics in Resonance magazine. A relatively new field of interest for Parker is improvising with live electronics, a dialogue he first documented on the 1990 Hall of Mirrors CD with Walter Prati. Later experiments with electronics in the context of larger ensembles have included the Synergetics - Phonomanie III project at Ullrichsberg in 1993 and concerts by the new EP2 (Evan Parker Electronic Project) in Berlin, Nancy and at the 1995 Stockholm Electronic Music Festival where Parker's regular trio improvised with real-time electronics processed by Prati, Marco Vecchi and Phillip Wachsmann. "Each of the acoustic instrumentalists has an electronic 'shadow' who tracks him and feeds a modified version of his output back to the real-time flow of the music."
The late 80s and 90s brought Parker the chance to play with some of his early heroes. He worked with Cecil Taylor in small and large groups, played with Coltrane percussionist Rashied Ali, recorded with Paul Bley: he also played a solo set as support to Ornette Coleman when Skies of America received its UK premiere in 1988. The same period found Parker renewing his acquaintance with American colleagues such as Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy and George Lewis, with all of whom he had played in the 1970s (often in the context of London's Company festivals). His 1993 duo concert with Braxton moved John Fordham in The Guardian to raptures over "saxophone improvisation of an intensity, virtuosity, drama and balance to tax the memory for comparison".
Parker's 50th birthday in 1994 brought celebratory concerts in several cities, including London, New York and Chicago. The London performance, featuring the Parker and Schlippenbach trios, was issued on a highly-acclaimed two-CD set, while participants at the American concerts included various old friends as well as more recent collaborators in Borah Bergman and Joe Lovano. The NYC radio station WKCR marked the occasion by playing five days of Parker recordings. 1994 also saw the publication of the Evan Parker Discography, compiled by ltalian writer Francesco Martinelli, plus chapters on Parker in books on contemporary musics by John Corbett and Graham Lock.
Parker's future plans involve exploring further possibilities in electronics and the development of his solo music. They also depend to a large degree on continuity of the trios, of the large ensembles, of his more occasional yet still long-standing associations with that pool of musicians to whose work he remains attracted. This attraction, he explained to Coda's Laurence Svirchev, is attributable to "the personal quality of an individual voice". The players to whom he is drawn "have a language which is coherent, that is, you know who the participants are. At the same time, their language is flexible enough that they can make sense of playing with each other ... l like people who can do that, who have an intensity of purpose." "-Evan Parker Website (http://evanparker.com/biography.php)
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• Show Bio for Craig Taborn
"Craig Marvin Taborn (/ˈteɪˌbɔːrn/; born February 20, 1970) is an American pianist, organist, keyboardist and composer. He works solo and in bands, mostly playing various forms of jazz. He started playing piano and Moog synthesizer as an adolescent and was influenced at an early stage by a wide range of music, including by the freedom expressed in recordings of free jazz and contemporary classical music.
While at university, Taborn toured and recorded with jazz saxophonist James Carter. Taborn went on to play with numerous other musicians in electronic and acoustic settings, while also building a reputation as a solo pianist. He has a range of styles, and often adapts his playing to the nature of the instrument and the sounds that he can make it produce. His improvising, particularly for solo piano, often adopts a modular approach, in which he begins with small units of melody and rhythm and then develops them into larger forms and structures.
In 2011, Down Beat magazine chose Taborn as winner of the electric keyboard category, as well as rising star in both the piano and organ categories. By May 2016, Taborn had released six albums under his own name and appeared on more than eighty as a sideman."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Taborn)
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• Show Bio for Ches Smith
"Born in San Diego, CA and raised in Sacramento, Ches Smith came up in a scene of punks and metal musicians who were listening to and experimenting with jazz and free improvisation. He studied philosophy at the University of Oregon before relocating to the San Francisco Bay area in 1995. After a few years of playing with obscure bands and intensive study with drummer / educator Peter Magadini, he enrolled in the graduate program at Mills College in Oakland at the suggestion of percussionist William Winant. There he studied percussion, improvisation, and composition with Winant, Fred Frith, Pauline Oliveros and Alvin Curran. One of Winant's first "assignments" for Ches was to sub in his touring gig at the time, Mr. Bungle (here he met bassist / composer Trevor Dunn who would later hire him for the second incarnation of his Trio-Convulsant). During his time at Mills, Ches co-founded two bands: Theory of Ruin (with Fudgetunnel / Nailbomb frontman Alex Newport), and Good for Cows (w/ Nels Cline Singers' Devin Hoff). He currently performs and records with Xiu Xiu, and Secret Chiefs 3. He has also performed with Ben Goldberg, Annie Gosfield, Wadada Leo Smith, John Tchicai, Fred Frith, and Trevor Dunn. In addition to Ceramic Dog, he also leads his two of his own projects, Congs for Brums and These Arches. He currently spends his time between Los Angeles, San Francisco and Brooklyn."-Ches Smith Website (http://www.chessmith.com/)
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1. Thought On Earth 7:37
2. Piano - Bass - Percussion T1 5:47
3. Q&A 4:40
4. Tenor - Percussion W2 3:25
5. QT12 6:10
6. Tenor - Bass W3 2:44
7. QW2 8:17
8. Tenor - Piano - Bass T2 5:36
9. Organ - Vibes W1 6:14
10. Bass - Percussion T2 5:07
11. Tenor - Piano - Percussion T1 9:35
1. QT13 6:25
2. Tenor - Piano - Percussion T2 4:10
3. Piano - Percussion W3 5:01
4. QT5 6:54
5. Tenor - Bass W1 4:16
6. Piano - Bass - Percussion T2 5:37
7. Unsteady As She Goes 5:38
8. Bass - Percussion T1 6:03
9. QW5 2:26
10. Tenor - Bass - Percussion T1 5:18
11. Tenor - Bass W2 3:46
12. QW1 10:01
sample the album:
"Uncharted Territories reunites Dave Holland with saxophonist Evan Parker, a longtime friend from their early days in London. They're joined by Craig Taborn, on piano and electronics, and Ches Smith on percussion. In addition to quartet improvisations, they also broke off into every possible subset of duo and trio configurations. The group also recorded two compositions by Smith and one by Holland. A resulting 23 tracks present a series of deep, multi-layered conversations between the musicians, some of whom were interacting for the first time."-Dare2Records
"Some fifty years after moving to New York to make some historic music with Miles Davis, the great British bassist Dave Holland looks back on a career that has been present on many jazz touchstones too numerous to list here. So it's perhaps inevitable that at some point Holland revisits turf that made up some of his legacy early on. 2013's Prism could be seen as one instance of returning to some prior phase, as this rock-jazz record can be connected to Holland's participation in Davis' groundbreaking fusion recording of the late 60s.
The genesis for these new free improv sessions Uncharted Territories (May 11, 2018 by Dare2 Records) goes back even further, to Dave Holland's pre-New York days and his association with UK sax giant Evan Parker. As fledgling unknowns, the two had played together in John Stevens' Spontaneous Music Ensemble when SME made a landmark album in the history of British improvised music, Karyobin. Holland resumed going down the path of free jazz as soon as he left Miles' band, joining Chick Corea, Barry Altschul and Anthony Braxton for the short-lived Circle ensemble, commencing a long association with avant-garde saxophonist Sam Rivers and of course, making a masterful debut as a leader titled Conference of the Birds with Rivers, Braxton and Altschul on hand.
A recent reconnect with Parker quickly led to a desire of the two to make totally improvised music together as a duo, but Dave Holland wanted to bring in the versatile keyboardist Craig Taborn from his Prism band into the mix and introduce even further intrigue by also adding Tim Berne and Mary Halvorson drummer Ches Smith (who had never previously worked with Holland nor Parker). And if that wasn't enough to spike the punch, the quartet split off into every possible duo and trio combination in addition to the four-man unit for performances that are entirely spontaneous.
Not all of these nearly two dozen tracks are straight-up group improvisations, however. Ches Smith brought his "Thought On Earth" and "Unsteady As She Goes" to the sessions. He employs vibes for the first part of the former and with Parker sounding quite melodic, the album opener initially sounds not too unlike Holland's small ensemble records of the aughts. But Smith abandons the vibes for his drums and that's where things get a little randy. For the latter, Smith's tympani rolls resemble thunder which - combined with Taborn's tentative piano - signal an impending storm. What follows is sublime four-way spontaneity suddenly dispersed when the drummer once again becomes the vibraphonist. But the vibraphone is more than just a hobby for Smith, and he shows advanced chops on the instrument mixing it up with the other three for the only other pre-written composition, Holland's "Q+A."
The other quartet numbers reveal even greater four-way telepathy, since nothing was pre-planned. "QT12" begins timidly until Dave Holland throws it into gear and the other three quickly hop on his train, racing along together for some abstract bop. "QW2" commences as a tenor/piano-only encounter but Holland, again on arco, eases into the picture; Smith makes a more audacious entrance as things get choppy. Smith nimbly oscillates between his drum kit and his vibes on "QT13," where Taborn resourcefully uses a Bluetooth speaker to alter the sound of his piano. Parker leads authoritatively on "QT5," but everyone else finds their place in the song and avoids stepping into someone else's zone. "QW1" once again finds Smith on vibes in a full group improv that ebbs and flows with the grace of classical music and the nimble revelation of jazz.
When thrown into other combinations of interactions, these musicians adjust accordingly so well, and it's often here where you can understand why they're considered elite. Sometimes, it's by doing the unexpected: Parker sits out "Piano - Bass - Percussion T1," where the remaining three ke out uncommon timbres from their respective instruments, capped off by portentous Taborn's electronic drone. Smith again mans the vibes, this time for his duet with Parker ("Tenor Percussion W2"), and he manages to make it sound close to a saxophone sound. Dave Holland chose to bow his bass for his one-on-one with Parker ("Tenor - Bass W3"), and Parker's drawn out notes seem to seek mimicking Holland. And "Organ - Vibes W1" pits Taborn against Smith in this diffused performance. Taborn's organ playing is very offbeat, as is the electronically enhanced sonority out of Smith's vibes.
Other times, there's an uncanny sense of collective feel guided by a common spirit, like the Smith-less "Tenor - Piano - Bass T2" where the remaining three seem to float in unison without any apparent timekeeping. "Tenor - Piano - Percussion T1" is just missing Holland, but Taborn's left hand largely makes up for it and his flowing, dark-hued chords sets the tone for the other two. Some stellar playing by Holland, Parker and Smith is happening on "Tenor - Bass - Percussion T2," where they are perfectly reading each other's minds.
And then there are moments that more than justify the great stature of the leader himself. Isolating the drums and bass on Holland and Smith's tet-a-tet ("Bass - Percussion T2") illuminates part of the genius of Dave Holland: his ability to stay rhythmically inventive, melodic and locked into what the drummer is doing all at once. Holland's lovely pure tone is up close and exposed as he is making up a melody on the fly for "Bass - Percussion T1" with Smith on drums. As soon as he finds some luscious groove, Smith is there to exploit it.
A blessed combination of two shores and two generations but a remarkably single minded mission to make magic from dust, the double CD free jazz extravaganza Uncharted Territories continues the fertile tradition of cross-pollination between the American and British free jazz scenes. As the man in the middle of this tradition, Dave Holland continues to add meaningful music to an already ample, rewarding catalog."-S. Victor Aaron, Something Else Reviews
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