July 24, 2024


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Jazz and blues – fuelled inferno summons spirit of Jimi Hendrix: Videos, Photos

Bass, guitar and drums smoulder and ignite during the bandleader’s flying visit to the same club Miles Davis prised him away from almost 50 years ago.

Jimi Hendrix was jamming at Ronnie Scott’s 24 hours before he died in 1970. This week there were some scorching stretches during the Dave Holland Trio’s one-night stopover at the club that could make you close your eyes and wonder if Hendrix would come back to finish the job.

Holland, a bass-playing legend and an influential bandleading composer, has formed a heavyweight new group with the musically reborn guitar star Kevin Eubanks and drummer Obed Calvaire. Eubanks spent 15 years as part of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show house band, but his spirit and technique since he left have boiled up into a midlife renaissance.

Miles Davis playing Ronnie Scott’s.
Miles Davis, seen here playing Ronnie Scott’s, encouraged Dave Holland to follow him to New York when he heard him at the Soho venue in 1968. Photograph: David Redfern/Redferns

The trio played a 90-minute set with no breaks or announcements, save for the UK-born Holland’s heartfelt recollections of playing Ronnie’s before Miles Davis swept him from Frith Street to New York in 1968. Then he began a softly plucked double-bass intro of rocking phrases and glossily humming tones, gradually embraced by Calvaire’s liquid cymbal swishes and a stealthy guitar hook. Eubanks’ relaxed right hand moved mesmerisingly from rhythm-playing to finger-picking to flapping thumb-hits like a bass guitarist. He strummed his way into a solo of howling distortions and pliable intertwining lines, within a theme that recalled the fierce fusion of John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra. Holland’s elegant, emphatic bass interludes furnished the contrasts, initially ushering in a folksy, acoustic-toned theme from Eubanks. Calvaire tailed with ticking hi-hat patterns before the smouldering turned to a percussion-fuelled inferno. The volume fell back with bluesy guitar slides that gradually gathered a backbeat, and a rhythmically fiendish finale collided funk with swing and a rattling postbop theme. The soft-cop/hard-cop pattern of the set grew familiar, but the creative virtuosity of this classy band was enthralling almost all the way through.

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