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Improv 04

July 31, 2005
Santa Fe , New Mexico
Dave Holland Quintet at the Lensic Theater

The band breaks out of the intro and hands it to Chris Potter
saxophone man who shakes the House with 15,000 notes per hour squealing
to the rafters, backbeat pile-driving honks aeronautic flow, sucking the air
out of the room then passes to Robin Eubanks and his big brass trombone that
doubles as a subsonic cannon, air pouring from the fuselage, a flock of geese in heat,
trombone man’s lips pressed hard into the metal, spray exploding around his head
like a shimmering halo, the world reflected in the horn’s bell – stars, galaxies,
a universe of pure tone…..
            Steve Nelson jumps the vibraphone like an electric skeleton
2 sticks in each hand slashing against the grain, chords of fire, leaning into the beat,
head wagging, lips peeled, beating the bones, ribs shaking, a run up the keys
then back too fast to follow with mortal eyes…..
             Dave Holland holds the band down double clutching low E, takes the solo
and lets it rip, chopping notes into small fragments, flying up the neck ten fingers
hopping the strings like a spider with a fly in the net, smooth as polished wood,
thumping for glory and makes a handoff to Nate Smith tom-tom hero thrashing the cymbals
so hard a stick breaks, chunk flies across the stage where Eubanks finds it,
holds it up for skin beater’s big grin, great crescendo,
skin beater’s feet shining in the stage lights,
the band watching, audience rapt, nowhere to move …..
            Whap! comes down on loose high hat, cuts to pure funk with Holland straddling
the riff against the marauding thunder, skin beater tearing it up….. Whap!
the band jumps in as one, All is One, back to the head, horn men blurting separate parts,
thirds fifths unison…. pulsating the long note, vibes pushing the wave, deep bass holding,
holding, as the fusion melds and the tune slides onto the runway like a big jet easing in
for a smooth landing on fat rubber tires and stops at the gate into a moment of pure silence
which brings the House down hard…...
            Two hours of jazz and there’s a fire in the House, crowd leaps to its feet
and slams the walls with a roar as the band smiles victorious and says “good night”
but the House has other ideas and demands More in pulsing insistence which brings
the Dave Holland Quintet back onstage for one last tune, the piece de resistance…..
then it’s over and folks drift off into the night with sounds of Eternity roaring in their heads,
the collective bargain of music achieved in a small theater on a warm summer night at the edge
of the high desert in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Ned Mudd
            Front row, seat 110