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October 22, 2009

"Conference of the Birds" - Dave Holland

I can easily feel comfortable saying this is my absolute favorite album released in the early 70s. I discovered Conference of the Birds late winter of this year and I have been consistently listening to it at least three times a week. I really cannot get sick of it. It's perfect that I have gotten addicted to this second release by Holland on the ECM label and now he is coming to Portland for the 2010 PDX Jazz Festival.

Conference of the Birds came from a 12th century Persian poem of the same title, Farid ud-Din Attar. Before I listened, I was thinking maybe that Anthony Braxton's and Same Rivers' individual sounds would compete with one another, but this rare personnel meshed perfectly and I can't think of a better front line for this quartet session.

What stands out for me is the opening tune, Four Winds. I wish every composition could be like this song. Wildly delicious string of notes and chords before exploding into a free ensemble and solos by the band. Q & A is fractured tune of heavy percussion and physical movements, like a Cecil Taylor inspired tune less the piano.

The title cut, which is the third tune, steps back from the rest of the more progressive, avant garde and free tracks. A folkish, contemplative tune, with light percussion and a smooth, catchy melody. Interception is another intense blowing session by Braxton and Rivers before Holland delights in a mind blowing solo. The actual composition itself is simple and just a handful of bars. Throughout all of these track, Barry Altschul performs percussion just ever so delicately to back the band. He really knows when to step back and let them shine, and when to balance their playing with heavier, complex fills and backings. Altschul then closes all of the breaks on Interception with an incredible solo which subliminally mimicked movements of the song.

Now Here (Nowhere) is the perfect name for this tune. At times it reminds me of a band rehearsing and warming up. The production on the track sounds a little different, with a little more reverb on the horns it really feels like the band is right in my apartment. See-Saw concludes the albumand reminds me of something that would be released on a Braxton album. The fast tempo and great rhythmic backing fabricates a playground for Rivers and Braxton to perform over.

Conference of the Birds is the only album including this rare lineup. At times, Braxton, Holland, and Altschul appear together on Braxton's own releases as well, as the Circle band with Chick Corea.
1973 - ECM.
Dave Holland – bass; Sam Riversreeds, flute; Anthony Braxton – reeds, flute; Barry Altschulpercussion, marimba
Check out this high school band killing it with Four Winds!

October 15, 2009

PDX Jazz Fest 2010 Lineup

Received a notice in my inbox yesterday about the lineup for the Alaskan Airlines/Horizon Air PDX Jazz Festival. WOW! Every year they always get a handful of headliners that blow me away.

I'm looking forward to Pharoah Sanders and the Dave Holland Quintet for the upcoming festivities. Both heavy hitters in the avant-garde scene. I'll try to report more news and updates of the PDX Jazz Festival as they come to me.

Other headliners are the Mingus Big Band under the artistic direction of Sue Mingus, Grammy nominated Dave Douglas' ensemble Brass Ecstasy, as well as a focus or Norwegian artists Trygve Seim & Frode Haltli, the Christian Wallumrod Ensemble, and In The Country. In the theme of British jazz writer Stuart Nichcolson's book, Is Jazz Dead (Or Has It Moved to a New Address)? - New Music from Norway.
"The showcase features three North American premieres that exemplify what Nicholson calls the "Nordic Tone", as a counterpoint to contemporary American jazz masters who push the boundaries of jazz."
Tickets are available on October 27th and are currently available to PDX Jazz Members now.