Live reviews

Aziza (Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Lionel Loueke, Eric Harland) at Cadogan Hall (2022 EFG LJF)

Aziza: Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Lionel Loueke, Eric Harland

(Cadogan Hall. 16 November 2022. Live review by Jon Turney)

L-R: Lionel Loueke, Dave Holland, Chris Potter & Eric Harland. Photo credit: Paul Wood

Dave Holland’s regular appearances at the London festival have settled at Cadogan Hall for the last few times round. This year he brought the all-star quartet who have toured intermittently since the mid-teens, with his long-time front-line choice Chris Potter on saxes, Lionel Loueke on guitars, and Eric Harland on drums. It’s a line-up that deserves the tag “supergroup”.

One still thinks of Holland as the leader – although he takes less solo space than long-time devotees of his playing (me) might wish, he is the rock-solid centre of the proceedings. A long exchange of coruscating phrases between Potter and Loueke on the final tune of set 2 was grounded by the bassist, in his characteristic solid, legs apart stance, immovably tied to the time, ever present.

Still, both tonight’s sets, the first slightly compromised by a balance that delivered way too much top end from drums and cymbals, displayed the lavish gifts of all four at length. Potter still seems to develop every time one hears him. Already commanding a matchless blend of technical skill and musical brio, he has added a heightened command of rhythm – might it come from touring with Holland and Zakir Hussein? – brought home here by a fascinating extended intro that used saxophone keys alone, no breath, to punch out a shifting pattern of notes.

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Loueke adding voice to his guitar on a couple of tunes, was also a master of rhythm: this band has fun forming a four-piece rhythm section when the fancy takes them. A solo feature deploying what seemed to be delayed octaves through a looper was the culmination of a whole array of guitar sounds that allows Aziza to play more orchestrally than the average quartet. Potter’s always punchy tenor and goosebump-raising soprano were bright threads in the tapestry, woven tight by Harland’s inventive drumming and Holland’s indispensable bass.

Aziza had a couple of dates remaining on their current European tour, but Holland began by emphasising that it still means a lot to come back to London, and paying tribute to John Cumming for all his years of work developing the festival, a sentiment he also aired in 2021 at his duo gig with John Scofield. I wonder who he might bring next year?

Dave Holland. Photo credit: Paul Wood.

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