by Thom Jurek
The halfway point in ECM's excellent 20-volume Rarum series is by one of its signature talents: bassist, composer, and bandleader Dave Holland. These documents are, essentially, career retrospectives wherein the artist chooses from his performances on the label, either as a leader, soloist, or sideman. Holland offers a fantastic cross section from his own catalog, with one exception. That selection is the album's opener, "How's Never" from Homecoming, the second album by Gateway, a trio Holland was involved in with guitarist John Abercrombie and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Most of the rest come from his celebrated 1980s and 1990s recordings with then-young luminaries such as Steve Coleman, Chris Potter, Smitty Smith, Kevin and Robin Eubanks, and ECM veterans such as Kenny Wheeler, Julian Priester, and Steve Wilson. There are a couple of exceptions, such as "Inception," from a solo cello album that is one of Holland's crowning achievements, and the closing cut, the signature tune from 1972's Conference of the Birds, featuring Holland alongside vanguard legends Anthony Braxton, Sam Rivers, and pianist Barry Altschul. While one might have wished for more representation from the 1970s material, the selections here are all top-notch. This is a great introduction to one of jazz's most enigmatic and consistent virtuosos.
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