By Paul de Barros | Published July 2021
Dave Holland has wrapped the throb of his bluntly beautiful, off-kilter bass lines in a myriad of configurations over the years, but even fans who expect the unexpected may be shocked by his funky new power-trio debut on the Edition label featuring guitarist Kevin Eubanks and drummer Obed Calvaire. With fumes of Hendrix and occasional electric bass guitar, the trio doesn’t always reach the level of spontaneous, layered freedom it aims for, but when it does, it’s golden.
You know from the snappy opener you’re in for a subtle new brand of funk, as Eubanks scratches and flanges through his tune “Grave Walker,” but with a light, airy touch. The trio really hits its stride on his ominously declarative “The Village,” with Holland gamboling up the neck of his electric and the guitarist sending out bluesy flares, moaning sustains and scribbling eddies before slowly rising against the current with legato arpeggios that flow into Calvaire’s crisp solo.
Holland’s sweetly haunting title track emits a quiet, confidential mood, ending with some dry guitar pings that sound like plucked piano strings. “Gentle Warrior” gives off a subtle island feel (a nod to Sonny Rollins?) and Eubanks excels again on the cloudy tone poem “Quiet Fire.” “Mashup” recalls the joyous ecstasy of Cream (sans vocals), and the album’s closer, “Bring It Back Home,” cuts to the heart of matter — the blues — shimmering with sex and fire.
Sometimes the band feels content to simply find a groove, which suggests that in live performances ahead (let’s hope) sparks will fly more often.
Another Land: Grave Walker; Another Land; Gentle Warrior; 20 20; Quiet Fire; Mashup; Passing Time; The Village; Bring It Back Home. (67:00)
Personnel: Dave Holland, bass, bass guitar; Kevin Eubanks, guitar; Obed Calvaire, drums.
Ordering Info: editionrecords.com