Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The Powerful and the Subtle: Dave Holland and Chris Potter
The difference between a listening to jazz live and listening to a jazz recording is analogous to watching a baseball game in the stands versus watching the game on TV. Some there are who will tell you that only the live experience is real. This is truer among jazz fans than among baseball fans.
The latter example tells the tale. All things considered, I'd rather watch a great ballgame in the stadium. The late evening summer sun, the air and the echoes, the smell of popcorn and beer, these don't come through even in HD. Nevertheless, there is much to be said for TV. You see more, and when it counts, you get to see it twice. These days you can run the DVR back to take a third look. No seat in the stadium beats the camera view.
The analogy breaks down over the fact that one will listen to good music over and over. The ideal, I suppose, would be to sit in a jazz club listening to a great performance, and then get the recording of that performance on your iPod. Even better, you might get a video recording on the event.
For Christmas this year I got a new iPod. My old one had 60G's of storage space. With 750 jazz albums and a lot of podcasts, I filled the damn thing up. My new one has 160G of space. So much to do, so little time. I confess: I want to have my whole collection at my disposal all the time.
The first new thing I put on my new baby was The Dave Holland Quintet/Extended Play:Live at Birdland. This is live jazz at maximum power. Almost all the cuts are more than ten minutes in length. I would love to have been there, but I can be there again and again. Here is a sample.
This is live page four jazz at its best. Trust me. There will be that guy who keeps dancing ridiculously hard, only he will be in your head. Chris Potter fills in on sax. He is as sharp and compelling as ever. I think that Holland's genius is evident in the inclusion of a trombone (Robin Eubanks) and vibes (Steve Nelson). Billy Kilson plays drums.
For a little contrast, here is a cut from a recent Chris Potter album. Potter has a large ensemble behind him. It is lush, poetic, bread and sauce. Hearing this live would be a great experience. But it is just as well heard on your iPod, and it's easier to go to the bathroom. This cut is wonderful:
Well, Happy New Year, Jazz Babies! I am getting pretty lonely here. If you like this blog, post a note or two.