Double bassist, composer and bandleader Dave Holland, one of the most accomplished and prolific musicians in the contemporary jazz scene, has teamed up with Edition Records to release another innovative album in 2021. Another Land
features jazz heavyweights Kevin Eubanks on guitar, and Obed Calvaire on drums, creating a compelling trio set up. Although Holland’s musical style has always been extremely eclectic, Another Land adds a whole new genre to Holland’s personal canon. Featuring heavy blues rock influences, Another Land is a beautifully classic yet refreshing exploration from three incredible musicians. All of the album’s instrumental compositions were written whilst the trio were on tour together – Holland stated of the process ‘we were doing a continuous set, once we started we very rarely stopped, we just kept going.’ This sense of freedom created through live performance and live interaction is conveyed throughout the album, making it a fascinating set of grooves which are at once pensive and electric. A sense of deep emotional intention is maintained throughout, because of the very deliberate and tasteful musical choices – this album is extremely thought provoking. Everything about Another Land feels purposeful and conscious, yet simultaneously incredibly organic: what a beautiful balance to strike.
‘Grave Walker’ arrestingly grabs the listener as the album opener, featuring a groovy bass line, funk wah guitar and incredibly tight drum hits. Eubanks’ slap guitar playing is an exciting addition to the piece, creating a whole new dimension to the track’s texture and feel. The funk and blues influences are glaringly recognisable on this piece, yet the variety in feel, texture, dynamic and tone that the musicians apprehend is an incredible feat. ‘Grave Walker’ is one of the album’s singles, alongside ‘Another Land’ and ‘Mashup’. ‘Mashup’ is similar in feel, featuring an irregular groove which gets heads nodding, an intense energy created through the pitch-bending guitar solo, and drumming which perfectly mirrors this intensity. The gradual build on this track is inspiring to experience – Calvaire absolutely shreds on drums under a repetitive guitar lick, challenging our expectations of musical structures and leaving us wondering when the tension is going to be released. The movement and intensity of ‘Mashup’ is then contrasted by the musings of ‘Another Land’. The double bass groove and guitar melody which open the piece are definitely questioning, and yet painstakingly purposeful. ‘Another Land’ mixes blues guitar with Latin jazz influences – the groove, harmonic choices and quietness of the track all speak of a Latin flavour which is a welcome addition to the album. The soloing on this track is so tasteful: each solo has melodic development and accessible musicality, yet manages to be refreshing at the same time. ‘Another Land’ is the music for peaceful late night musings, when everyone else has gone to sleep – what a beautiful track.
‘The gradual build on this track is inspiring to experience – Calvaire absolutely shreds on drums under a repetitive guitar lick, challenging our expectations of musical structures and leaving us wondering when the tension is going to be released.’
In contrast, ‘Gentle Warrior’ opens with a darker urgency which isn’t as present on other tracks. The 5/4 groove creates an elliptical feel and a sense of anticipation, mirrored by Eubanks’ chord melodies. Yet, ‘Gentle Warrior’ suddenly changes feel and tone, as a much warmer groove and harmonic progression takes over. This track really takes us on a journey – the solos are playful in their syncopation and rhythm, yet the much darker and urgent opening still resonates, especially when the melody cyclically returns. ‘Quiet Fire’ provides an interlude to the album, as Eubanks plays solo on guitar – the melodic ideas are thoughtful and pensive, and very beautiful. The emotion of ‘Quiet Fire’ is then reflected in ‘20 20’, featuring a quiet and pensive opening with atmospheric bowing on bass from Holland, and Calvaire venturing into new textures with a seed shaker. This pensive bubble is soon burst, however, by Eubanks’ guitar groove – as listeners, immediately we think of Hendrix. The blues rock influences on this piece are exhilarating, as the band slowly build and circle around different patterns before returning over and over to the Hendrix-esque riff. Holland’s double bass solo again provides a tasteful beauty which is full to the brim with intention, as is Eubanks’ wah shredding. The trio renew multiple musical traditions by bringing them together in a delicate, compelling blend which both surprises and awakens the listener.
‘This track really takes us on a journey – the solos are playful in their syncopation and rhythm, yet the much darker and urgent opening still resonates, especially when the melody cyclically returns.’
The album ends with a very bluesy trio – ‘Passing Time’, ‘The Village’ and ‘Bring It Back Home’ all feature that classic blues sound. ‘Passing Time’ feels both warm and cool at the same time, with a lazy groove and lots of space to improvise. The track definitely features some classic jazz runs and comping on guitar, yet remains very bluesy throughout. ‘The Village’ contrastingly features a very experimental opening, with rubato playing and extended techniques, yet soon moves into a blues rock guitar solo, reminiscent of Led Zepp guitarist Jimmy Page. Holland’s electric bass solo proves his versatility once more, building the atmosphere for Eubanks’ shredding, distorted guitar solo at the track’s close. Nothing about these solos is raw, in the sense that the vulnerability is there, yet the choices are so deliberate and accomplished. Finally, ‘Bring It Back Home’ ends the album with a classic, lazy slow blues. The double bass groove and electric guitar interaction is brilliant, aided by Calvaire’s in-the-pocket drums. The whole track is perfect in tone and feel, featuring lots of wah from Eubanks and laidback, stanking solos.
‘‘Passing Time’ feels both warm and cool at the same time, with a lazy groove and lots of space to improvise.’
Another Land is an extremely accomplished, profound album which blends blues rock influences with Latin jazz, funk, and that classic blues sound. Each player is virtuosic in their individual soloing, yet they also provide incredibly tight ensemble work at the same time. Another Land manages to sound both organic and painstakingly precise, through each player’s 40-50 years of composing, playing, and improvising. Holland’s new album is brilliant, featuring head nodding grooves, late night musings, and beautifully intentioned solos which move and thrill the listener. We cannot recommend this album enough – it has something for everyone.