Record of the Day: Dave Holland Big Band, "Overtime"

Record of the Day: Dave Holland Big Band, “Overtime”

Dave Holland Big Band
Overtime (Cd Dare2 982714-2)

After many years spent in the ECM stable, the English double bass player and bandleader Dave Holland started his own record label, Dare2 Records, deciding to inaugurate it with one of the most spectacular records of his long career, which took him over forty years of concerts to collaborate with world-class names such as Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett, to name just a few.

In addition to being an instrumentalist with unparalleled technique and remarkable taste, Holland is an excellent composer who in his pieces prefers composed tempos and harmonic openings derived from bebop although directed towards a more complex region; the themes are often nervous and snappy, with almost zigzag lines, always unpredictable. The size of the big band, with its infinite coloristic possibilities, allows him to extract the most from his writing ability; behind his scores we can glimpse the lesson of Gil Evans, in particular in the use of sound mixtures and counterpoint, but every now and then ironic references to the world of the great Big Bands of the past, from Ellington to Gillespie, peep out.

The virtuosity of all the members of the group is used by Holland with sobriety and intelligence, placing their skill
always at the service of expository clarity and collective impact rather than endless solos or circus virtuosity. One of the most fascinating sides of this album is precisely the coexistence of compositional structures articulated with the utmost lightness in the instrumental approach; they all fly over the rhythmic and harmonic obstacles of these scores effortlessly, which makes the music always fresh and engaging even when the complexity of the system would seem to take the discussion to a more abstract level.

Listening to this group in concert is an exciting experience (they often come to Italy, but if you haven't managed to
listening to them there is always the beautiful live double album “Extended Play”) which Holland manages to translate perfectly even into studio recordings, with motivated musicians who work as a team to achieve the maximum expressive result, particularly in the very vast “Monterey Suite” which takes up most of the disc.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.