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December 2002

Dave Holland Big Band
What Goes Around
ECM Records

On What Goes Around (ECM), Dave Holland shows why he, his bass, his big and small bands, his writing and his arranging have won buckets of awards. What Goes Around is Holland's first big-band recording, and it deservedly created a sensation among industry jazzoids. Part of the reason lies in his indebtedness to Mingus. As Holland told writer Bob Blumenthal, "Flexibility has been built into the music, so we can change it from night to night. The idea, as in the music of Ellington-Strayhorn and Charles Mingus, is that it can be difficult to tell where writing and improvising diverge." But Holland enjoys the best of both worlds with his firm, straightahead, Ray Brown-like underpinning.

His 13-piece band, with his current quintet as its nucleus (trombonist Robin Eubanks, tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, vibist Steve Nelson and drummer Billy Kilson), excels at contrapuntal lines. It is indeed difficult to discern between what's arranged and what is spontaneous, particularly on "Triple Dance," "Shadow Dance" and the rhythmically complex title tune, which alternates between five and six. Much of the credit for the band's distinctive sound goes to Nelson. Holland prefers the color of the mallets and their ability to provide more breathing room harmonically than a piano.

What Goes Around is filled with outstanding charts, solo work and concerted playing.

Originally published in December 2002
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