Dave Holland Big Band. All compositions and arrangements by Dave Holland
As he gained more and more respect and critical recognition in the early years of the 21st century, Dave Holland took a leap and expanded his music outward into a big band format. The word "expanded" is key here, for what Holland has mostly done on this album is send his quintet format through an expansion process, where there are more pieces in the puzzle yet still the same overall conception of sound. All but one of the pieces here are rewrites of earlier, previously recorded selections, dating from 1983 all the way to 2000. All of the charts are composed with a sureness and a grounding in tradition that belies the fact that this is Holland's first big band album. And all maintain the same intelligence in conception, spareness of texture, and crystalline detail as Holland's small-group recordings for ECM, despite the obvious harmonic elaborations. For example, in "What Goes Around" -which appeared on Holland's previous album, "Not For Nothin'" - the ostinato-driven horizontal structure is basically the same, allowing for some fills by the ensemble, and despite the additional harmonic content, the vertical texture is similar, too. The main difference is that there is more urgency and more tension in the music now, which is most apparent in "The Razor's Edge," "Shadow Dance," and the only new composition, "Upswing." Holland quintet members tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, trombonist Robin Eubanks , vibraphonist Steve Nelson and drummer Billy Kilson return to form the core of this big band - as does flute/alto saxophonist Antonio Hart, who toured with Holland's group after these tracks were cut. These and several other players in the big band get plenty of room to solo - and they do so with taste and occasional fire. This CD marks the addition of another fine big band to the ranks, though it does more for the evolution of Holland's music than for the big band idiom itself.
- Richard S. Ginell (All Music Guide)