This set works very well. Dave Grusin and his younger brother Don Grusin use a variety of keyboards to create a series of colorful duets. Other than Dori Caymmi's "Southern Wind," all of the fairly spontaneous yet well-planned performances are originals by one or both of the brothers. Even listeners who are not that much into electronics will find much of interest on this melodic and funky, yet often unpredictable set.
For this tight and enjoyable quartet date, bassist Dave Holland spread the composing opportunities around, his sidemen accounting for four of the six pieces. Arguably, none of these musicians ever sounded better, or more adventurous, than when performing in Holland's bands. While the leader himself retreated a good deal from his more routinely avant-garde recordings of the '70s, he appeared unwilling to allow his younger compadres to simply coast, instead evoking probing and thoughtful playing from them. Altoist Steve Coleman derives particular benefit from Holland's supervision, sounding far more fluid and confident than own his own rather more stilted albums.
Dave Holland's quintets and big bands have set a new high standard for modern mainstream and progressive jazz since the late '90s. While not a new assertion, and considering his entire body of work, Holland has time and time again proven his compositional theorems as valid, accessible, ever interesting, and especially memorable. Using a sextet, upright bassist Holland sets the bar even higher, adding the always tasteful pianist Mulgrew Miller and a four-horn front line that is relentless. This group continues to define jazz perfectly in the 21st century.
Drummer Dan Brubeck, son of the late Dave Brubeck, pays homage to his parents in a most appropriate way. He puts the proper frame around the songbook created by his mother and father over their 70-year performance career. Using the saxophone quartet format his father blazed jazz trails with, Brubeck leads his quartet through 14 Brubeck originals at Vancouver's Cellar recorded in August 2013. Bassist Adam Thomas proves to be a fine vocalist for the special material, never obscuring the pieces with technical attempts to impress. Urbane and amiable, this collection has been a long time coming and now that it is here, we can fully appreciate the art of Dave and Iola Brubeck.