As evidenced by his work with the renowned World Saxophone Quartet, alto saxman Oliver Lake knows how to create challenging, complex, experimental jazz. HOLDING TOGETHER, released in 1976, provides more of the same, though the proceedings here have a distinct chamber-jazz feel. Characterized by their use of space, subtle instrumental interchange, and lack of steady backbeat (the percussion on the album is remarkably quiet and used to create accents), Lake's compositions have an almost ambient feel at times.
As a player, Lake only flirts with straight melody (the bop-like head of "Hasan," for example, and the gorgeous "Ballad"), opting more often to employ rhythmic figures and rapid, conversational voicings that blend in with the other instruments. Michael G. Jackson lends color with his electric guitar, electric mandolin, bamboo flute, and vocals, while the rhythm section of Fred Hopkins (bass) and Paul Maddox (drums) keep things alternately tense and languid. Radically free, yet evocative and engaging, HOLDING TOGETHER (the title is apt--the music seems bound only by the loosest threads at times) is like the soundtrack to a night of restless, nervous dreams.