Pathways Review
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Jazz aficionados are well aware of bassist Dave Holland who has been around for five decades. Holland’s name became well known as a member of Miles Davis’ group during the Afro-Jazz period of the late 1960’s—on Davis’ popular Bitches Brew album. Since that time, whether it was Dave’s playing with others, his writing and/or solo work, he has shown himself to be among the upper echelon of current jazz greats.

His latest release, Pathways, was recorded live in New York City at the legendary jazz venue, Birdland. Accompanying Dave is a powerhouse of talented musicians that includes Chris Potter (tenor, soprano sax), Antonio Hart (alto sax), Gary Smulyan (baritone sax), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Alex Sipigian (trumpet), Nate Smith (drums) and Steve Nelson (vibes, marimba).

The energy displayed in these performances borders on a fine line of remaining in a nice groove and a wild exhilaration of musical magic with each band member stepping out with their individual solos. My solo favorites are Smulyan’s on the title track, and Sipigian's, who’s playing on the song, “Wind Dance” has a decidedly Latin flare to it.

The only drawback for me was because the CD was recorded live, we as listeners don’t have the visual ability to see each performer’s moment where they step in with subtleness of their particular instrument, making it hard at times to pick up either Holland’s bass work or Nelson on the vibes until their level of volume increases, creating a few moments where it feels the music has disappeared. That also could be attributed to the difficulty in mixing a live performance of a jazz group compared to the loudness that prevails of a hard rock band.

The interplay of the band is wonderful. I’d compare it to NBA playoff games. The top level teams have this beautiful symmetry and spacing on the basketball court with team work when it comes to passing the ball, knowing who has the best shot, and when to take the shot. Holland’s group knows when to take the slam-dunk solo, when to pass that moment in the song to their fellow band mate, or playing in a supporting role while letting the others be the lead player at the moment.

My personal favorite is track four, “Ebb and Flow”. With a burst of horns and percussion, the aptly titled song takes me on a roller coaster listening ride of exuberance and joy.

Jazz listeners will love this CD. For the person who wants to experience their first foray into this musical art form, Pathways is a great starting point.

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