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*** 1/2 DAVE HOLLAND QUINTET "Points of View" ECM

October 11, 1998|Don Heckman

"Quality" is a word that frequently comes to mind with each new Holland album. Despite the varying instrumental combinations that have characterized his long recording career, each outing seems to be done with exquisite concern for detail and a total emphasis on the music. It's no mystery why he has been the bassist of choice for artists ranging in diversity from Miles Davis, Stan Getz and Anthony Braxton to John McLaughlin, Ben Webster and Betty Carter.

For the past couple of years, Holland has been working with the unusually instrumented ensemble heard here--Robin Eubanks, trombone; Steve Wilson, alto and soprano saxophones; Steve Nelson, vibraphone and marimba; and Billy Kilson, drums. The timbres possible from this combination, especially since Eubanks has a high, clear sound that blends smoothly with Wilson's alto saxophone, provide an unusually colorful tonal palette.

Holland's own pieces mix straight-ahead jazz items such as "Mr. B" (dedicated to Ray Brown) with the more exotic timbres of "The Bedouin Trail." Eubanks' "Metamorphos" showcases the slippery, blues-hued phrase of Holland's bass with sudden shifts of accent and rhythm. And Holland's "Arios" (think "A Rios") floats with simmering Brazilian-tinged accents.

The soloing is universally fine, from Nelson's precise vibes to Wilson's warm melodies and Eubanks' occasional dips into funk. Anchoring it all, Holland's solid-as-a-rock bass playing once again reminds us that quality is still an essential element in his music.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good), four stars (excellent).

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