Prime Directive

COMPOSERS: Dave Holland
ALBUM TITLE: Dave Holland Quintet
PERFORMER: Dave Holland (db), Chris Potter (ts, ss, as), Robin Eubanks (tb, cowbell), Steve Nelson (vib, mar), Billy Kilson (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 547 950-2


Manfred Eicher and ECM Records have much to celebrate about the label’s 30 years of existence. Its far-sighted commitment to music of quality has resulted in highly successful ongoing patronage for some of the finest jazz musicians of our time.

Dave Holland, English-born, but long a resident of the USA, has been recording for ECM since 1975, and over the years he has developed into an inspirational force as a player, composer and bandleader. Here he leads a fairly new quintet of younger Americans, but their artistic maturity is already astonishing.

They are all virtuosi, but no one ever overplays – every note is meant, and they project the most subtle and potent feeling. Holland composed five of the nine pieces, and the other members of the band each contributed a composition.


Most of the performances seem to grow organically, because they are through-composed, with improvised commentaries often by pairs of instruments on developing and/or recurring motifs. The creative vitality of the group, its wonderful sonorities, sheer rhythmic panache and masterful soloists are a joy, and the whole of Holland’s quintet is even greater than the sum of its very considerable parts.