FAME Review: Dave Haskell Group - Pivot Point
Dave Haskell Group - Pivot Point

Pivot Point

Dave Haskell Group

Coastal Sky Productions - CSP001

Available from Amazon.com after March 26, 2013.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

It's hard to believe this is Dave Haskell's first recording, but it's true. I mean, look at who he's played with since the 60s: first falling in with Charles, Mark, Patrick, and Robben Ford, then hooking up with Mike Nock, Larry Vuckovitch, Jim Pepper, Mark Soskin, Susan Muscarella, Merl Saunders, Greg Karukas, and a whole bunch of other notables. However, he burned out on the music scene in the 80s, earned a pilot's license, and while I was building commercial airliners back then, he was flying 'em! After 20 years, he'd had enough of that too and returned to his first love, music, and thus we now have Pivot Point, produced by no less a cat than Jimmy Haslip.

Haskell's group is a quartet, but he can boast of impressive guests beside them: the aforementioned Robben Ford, Russ Ferrante, and Haslip, all of them industry stars, and then Toss Panos, drummer for a number of outstanding progfusion groups. The influence of bop is clear in Haskell's guitaristics, but most all the hard edges have been refined to the sort of sound one hears in Ferrante, Haslip, and Ford. The first cut, "Agnes", however, features a very unusual guitar/synth sound (and I can't determine if it's an outboard pedal Haskell's using or if keyboardist Dan Zemelman's tracing him) as well as some highly Holdsworthian slurs and vocab with a touch of Martino. A few cuts later, the elegiac An Orchid for Emily, for Emily Remler, an outstanding fretboard artist who passed away waaaaay too young, serves up a ballad before going into soft jazz be-bop, Second Look, with its interlocking patterns. It's here that bassist Aaron Germain breaks into a very cool cut-long set of perambulations behind Haskell.

For the Moment is one of the perkier numbers on the disc and reminded me of an Eleventh House song, Panos hitting the skins a tad more emphatically than the elegant Alan Hall, the band's home drummer. Haskell slips back into a more angular style once more, reminding of sections of Holdsworth playing for Ponty. No one, but no one, can match Allan but Haskell cuts right into the sound and borders, retrieving a highly attractive vibe and tenor. Panos remains seated for Monty, which has the vivacity and punch of the hallmark Brian Auger & The Trinity's Befour and promulgates the zenith of Pivot Point while a take on Hancock's Eye of the Universe, with Hall returning, maintains the velocity of this last section of the CD's 67 minutes, with solos for all before the curtain rings down.

Track List:

  • Agnes
  • For Barack
  • Mamab Samba
  • An Orchid for Emily
  • Second Look
  • Thirty West by Seventy (o' Something Hundred)
  • 888 Watson
  • For the Moment
  • Montyn (Robben Ford)
  • Eye of the Universe (Herbie Hancock)
All songs writen by Dave Haskell except as noted.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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