Bath Festival: Dan Stern & Dave Holland Group, Pavilion, Sunday 24th May

Dan Stern is another new name for me although the members of his band were not, all top flight UK based players. Dan Stern was apparently in awe of being on the same bill as Dave Holland and who can blame him? The man’s CV does read a bit like a journey of the passing of the baton from the originators and innvovators of modern and post bop jazz through to today’s almost un-categorisable universe of music. I think this might be a Hem o the Robe gig, although there’ll be plenty more chances (hopefully) to pluck at these particluar threads.

Dan Stern certainly did himself credit. The mainly untitled originals were apparently base on Chopin pieces, but if so they had become driving European Jazz pieces, with forceful emotional climaxes and blistering solos from Robert Mitchell on keys and Julian Siegel on a variety of reed instruments as well as Dan himself. I’ll be checking him out some more. Its a shame there wasn’t a piano for Robert Mitchell, he was reduced to playing an electric stage piano.

dave_holland_02_ag_3501Dave Holland is an incredible presence on stage. He plays with such intensity and rythmic energy, beaming along. This is another group who seem telepathically connected and play their own separate roles with absolute assurance whether leading or supporting. The music is very jazzy, sometimes swing sometimes latin flavoured but always slipping and sliding, apparently changing tempo or time signature at will. The audience was well populated with musos furiously counting trying to decipher the technicalities. I like how lightly this band wears that erudition. You can just listen, and like (or not) the sound they make. It is a dense, abstract beautiful sound to my ears. Many people will say this is the premier small jazz groups on the planet. I think it would be hard to argue with that.


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