Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Lionel Loueke and Eric Harland are Aziza on self-titled Dare2 Release [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt on Nov 07, 2016 12:36 PM EST

Aziza is a quartet comprised of four supremely talented stars--Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Lionel Loueke and Eric Harland--who, together, have forged their own group identity quite apart from their individual international reputations as exemplary musicians, composers and band leaders. Their self-titled Dare2 Records debut is a shot in the arm of pure adrenaline.

Eric Harland is the man in demand, one of the most sought after drummers in the business (check out his work with Charles Lloyd, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Joshua Redman).Lionel Loueke is the exceptional West African guitarist from the country of Benin who has been turning heads ever since he played on Terence Blanchard's Bounce in 2003. His Blue Note CDs have consistently been among the top jazz albums of '08, '10, '12 and '15. Saxophonist Chris Potter's work with Pat Metheny and Paul Motian has been well-documented and NEA Jazz Master bassist Dave Holland needs no introduction. Okay fine: he's played in the bands of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Gary Burton and John McLaughlin while leading his own groups Circle and Prism.

Put these four in a recording studio with two originals each and wham bam Aziza will knock your socks off. It's an African word for the god of inspiration. These gentlemen know each other inside-out. Potter has played with Holland for almost two decades. Harland is in Prism with Holland and in the as-yet-unrecorded Overtone Quartet with Potter and pianist Jason Moran. Harland and Loueke were in Terence Blanchard's band. Loueke was with Potter and Holland in Herbie Hancock's band. Got all that?

Did you ever adopt a tune that hits you so profoundly that you just have to play it for everyone in your world? Opener "Aziza Dance" is such a tune. It's so good, funky, jazzy, rockin', boppin', swingin' and itchin' to be scratched on a regular basis that I must have played it eight times before I even wanted to go to Track #2. When's the last time an opening track did that to you? Has it ever? (Hear for yourself below.)

The Afro-Caribbean "Summer 15" is next which is as refreshing as a cool frosty drink on a hot beach. Track after track fulfills the promise and the premise of such a gathering of the strong. Best bet would be after you own this thing for a few days of non-stop listening, run right out and see Aziza live Nov. 12 in Germany, Nov. 13 in Italy, Nov. 15 in London, Nov. 16 in Berlin, Nov. 17 in Paris and Nov. 18 in Amsterdam. What a vacation!

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TagsAziza, REVIEW, Lionel Loueke, Dave Holland

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