Evan Haga Introduces the April 2014 Issue

Hooray for Holland

I’ve been involved in the creation of 77 issues of JazzTimes now, and while I’m proud of each magazine that includes my name on the masthead, I don’t think I’ve ever fully realized any of them. There’s always another new artist, another CD or box set, another pocket of jazz history to research and report on. Take this April bass-themed issue, for instance. There’s plenty here for you to dig into: a well-deserved major profile of Eric Revis, a sagely crafted Artist’s Choice by Drew Gress and a candid reminiscence of Jaco Pastorius by drummer Peter Erskine, to name just a few clips. (If you enjoy Erskine’s piece, be sure and check out his recent autobiography in its entirety, especially the bonus-material-filled iPad version.)

Still, I could plan at least two more bass-focused magazines over the upcoming weekend, easy. And featured in a big way would be Dave Holland’s Prism, which released one of 2013’s best jazz records and continues to schedule live dates, with appearances confirmed for this year’s Playboy and Newport festivals. I was reminded of this quartet’s radiance at the Highline Ballroom in New York in mid-February, as this issue’s production cycle was nearing its end. Like most groups you keep returning to, Prism features individually outstanding players-Holland, guitarist Kevin Eubanks, keyboardist Craig Taborn and drummer Eric Harland-that achieve an unmistakable vibe when they coalesce. In this case, that aesthetic means a mix of the highest-level current postbop, the stoned-R&B inflections of seminal jazz-rock, and the sort of early prog-rock that had a genuine edge to it, before the geeks coopted the style. The group reunites Holland with Eubanks, and reintroduces Eubanks into a great working jazz band; at the Highline, the guitarist was a force of nature, flaunting a studied recklessness lost in today’s post-Kurt Rosenwinkel age. I may have missed my opportunity to feature Holland in this issue, but you can still hear Prism live, and should.