Considering all of Dave Holland’s spectacular work over the past five-plus decades—from the bassist’s tenure with Miles Davis through his numerous leader and collaborator releases for ECM, and on and on—sometimes he sounds most at home fronting an unfussy small group that’s in it just for the fun of it. This is one of those times: Holland has been calling on guitarist Kevin Eubanks for the occasional workout since the early ’90s, and it’s a natural fit. Drummer Obed Calvaire hasn’t been around nearly as long as the others but makes anyone sound better. They first performed live together around five years ago; Another Land is their debut recording as a trio.
This music is not devoid of raw power, but it’s also got plenty of grace and delicacy; there’s a casual tone to it all, as though the three went into it sans expectations and this is simply what emerged when they hit the record button. The nine tracks, all originals, range from the refined, airy title track—a stately showcase for Holland’s unflagging dexterity—to the fierce “Mashup,” which ought to dispel any notions that Eubanks dwells permanently in the gentle side of town. The guitarist is explosive here, providing Calvaire with ample reason to tear away madly, and if Holland (who plays electric as well as standup bass on the album) seems less adventurous by comparison, it’s only because someone had to keep this thing anchored.
Besides, Holland has plenty of other opportunities to be the chief pathfinder. On “The Village,” he’s tentative initially, feeling out the tune’s parameters, but by midway he’s had enough of that; the ensuing jam rivals any of rock’s great power trios for ferocity, all three players leaving any semblance of decorum behind.