Sunday, November 22, 2009

Overtone Patterns

Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Jason Moran & Eric Harland Overtone Quartet, London Jazz Festival, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Friday 20th November 2009

One can be forgiven for being a little awed by the sense of presence when the stately Dave Holland takes to the stage. This man is ex-Bitches Brew era Miles after all. He introduces the band in such a relaxed and self assured manner, you know this guy knows what he’s doing. Holland then headed us straight for saxophonist Potter’s composition ‘Outsiders’. A great start too, loosely hinting at the lilt and circular lifting sequence of Corea’s ‘500 Miles High’. There was some lovely lyrical playing from pianist Moran, and an immediately seductive deep fine groove from drummer Harland. The bass and drum introduction to Holland’s ‘Walking the Walk’ was a gorgeous treat with some fine sprinkle washes of Fender Rhodes keyboard setting up a bluesmeister bass solo. Holland combines a strong weighty pulse with a precise articulation that ensures every note counts.

The Harland composed ‘Patterns’ hosted the first appearance of some metrical trickery, albeit being well disguised by the loose grooved drumming. The intensity slowly upped and upped, giving Moran and Potter the opportunity for some fearsome trading spurred on by the rhythmic surge. A track from the classic ‘Conference of the Birds’ album, ‘Interception’, took us into hardcore fast manic angular territory, Potter at times squawking through both soprano and tenor sax simultaneously. It takes quite some listening to this, but respite occurred with a two-note groove lockdown giving us a temporary breather. Some fluid side stick drumming accompanied by a quite overwhelmingly fast and precise bass section was a marvel. The aural space then opened out to expose a rumbling low kick drum thud, this clearing the path for a relentless and highly percussive drum solo from Harland.

We were eased down gently with the introspective encore track, ‘Sky’. Some gentle bowed double bass, decorated by sympathetic brush and bell strokes from Harland calmed our neural firestorms, and readied us for the journey home. Exhausting at times, but well worth it. You know your world is better for it.

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