In navigating the turbulent waters and tricky rapids of jazz, artists must often juggle leading a group, forming cooperatives and performing as sidemen in order to maintain a successful career. But in the case of extraordinary bassist, composer and cellist Dave Holland, all three of those elements have fully blossomed into one of the most acclaimed and accomplished legacies in contemporary jazz.
From his early days in London accompanying masters like Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster, through his work with Miles Davis' trailblazing ensembles of the late '60s, his long association with Sam Rivers in the 1970s, and so many other jazz notables, Dave Holland has performed with those who occupy the loftiest realms of creativity and acclaim. Betty Carter, Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Anthony Braxton, Jack DeJohnette, Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes, Stan Getz, Pat Metheny, Joe Lovano and Gary Burton are among those with whom Dave has often exchanged musical ideas as co-leader or sideman.
In the two decades since he began to focus on a career as leader, Holland has issued a succession of excellent and critically acclaimed recordings, garnering two Grammy nominations, various jazz awards and consistent ranking on annual best album lists around the world.
In addition to performing in diverse contexts from solo to quintet, Dave's Octet recently toured the UK and Europe and he premiered his Big Band while Artist in Residence at the 2000 Montreal Jazz Festival. The Monterey Jazz Festival has commissioned a large-scale work for the Big Band to be premiered at the Festival in September 2001, which kicks off an extensive U.S. and European Quintet tour in support of the latest ECM release, Not For Nothin'.
In addition to continued Quintet touring, the first recording by the Big Band will be released in the Summer of 2002, to be followed by an extensive tour in the Fall. Holland is also the soloist in classical composer Mark Turnage's "Bass Inventions" (a concerto for double bass and orchestra) which premiered at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in May 2001, and will tour with the project in February 2002. In Summer 2002 he'll be touring Europe with SCOLOHOFO, a cooperative ensemble with John Scofield, Joe Lovano and Al Foster.
Recent recording projects also include Roy Haynes' Birds of a Feather, concentrating on the music of Charlie Parker with Kenny Garrett, Roy Hargrove and Dave Kikoski; and another with Jim Hall, featuring the great guitarist in duets with Dave and other bassists.
Over the past few years, a slew of major accolades has placed Holland in the forefront of jazz' most significant and important artists. Voted #1 acoustic bass player in the DownBeat Critics Poll since 1999, he's been similarly honored in the Bell Atlantic and Jazz Journalists Awards, and named Musician of the Year by the Jazz Journalists in 2000.
Always dedicated to teaching as well (including Artistic Directorship of the summer jazz workshop at the Banff School in Canada for seven years; and a full time faculty member at Cambridge's prestigious New England Conservatory of Music from 1987-90), Dave was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Music by the Berklee School of Music in 2000.
Born in Wolverhampton England on October 1st, 1946, Dave was primarily self taught, beginning at four on ukulele and progressing through guitar, bass guitar and, after being profoundly affected upon hearing jazz bass greats Ray Brown and Leroy Vinnegar, began playing double-bass at 15. Playing professionally since he was 13, he left school at 15 to pursue a musical career, getting his first double-bass job at 17 with a dance band.
Dick Hyman first appeared as guest artist of The Shedd Institute in 1993 as a part of The Shedd's flagship summer festival, Oregon
Over the next three years, in addition to his studies with James E. Merritt (principal bassist for the London Philharmonic) and a full scholarship at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Holland performed in all kinds of settings from accompanying pop vocalist Johnny Ray to restaurant gigs to playing with local bands covering everything from early New Orleans to modern styles.
By 1966 he was playing with London's most innovative artists, including John McLaughlin, John Surman, Kenny Wheeler, Chris McGregor, Evan Parker, etc. and took great inspiration from the era's bass heavyweights like Jimmy Garrison, Charles Mingus, Scott LaFaro, Ron Carter and Gary Peacock. Influenced also by contemporary Western classical composers, especially Béla Bartók, Dave also performed with chamber orchestras and did studio work for television, film, radio and records.
Playing regularly at Ronnie Scott's with visiting giants like Webster, Hawkins and Joe Henderson, Dave left for the United States in 1968 after Miles Davis heard him play at the famous London Club and invited him to join his band. Remaining with the incomparable legend until 1970, he participated in recordings that shook the very foundations of jazz, including Filles de Kiliminjaro, In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew.
For more than a decade, beginning shortly after arriving in the States, Holland played with a steady stream of top names like Monk, Getz, Braxton and Betty Carter. He also maintained and a ten year association with amazing reedman/composer/pianist/theoretician Sam Rivers, performing in all contexts from duo to orchestra. It was also during this same period that Dave began a long succession of cooperative endeavors beginning with Circle in 1970 with Chick Corea, Anthony Braxton and Barry Altschul, and continuing with Gateway, along with John Abercrombie and Jack DeJohnette in 1975. Subsequent collaborations in this fashion have occurred with such notables as Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Elvin Jones, Gary Burton, Roy Haynes and Joe Lovano.
Although Dave has continued to work consistently with major groups led by big names like Hancock, Michael Brecker and Joe Henderson, as well as participating on projects by more recent stars like Cassandra Wilson, Terence Blanchard and Billy Childs, Holland is primarily turning his focus to his own ensembles, especially his Quintet featuring saxophonist Chris Potter, trombonist Robin Eubanks, vibraphonist Steve Nelson and drummer Billy Kilson and the Octet, which adds trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, alto saxophonist Antonio Hart and baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan.
Not For Nothin', the new release by the Dave Holland Quintet continues the special relationship with ECM that has gone on for nearly 30 years, beginning with the influential and still progressive Conference of the Birds in 1972, Dave's first as leader and featuring Rivers, Braxton and Altschul. Two solo recordings followed - Emerald Tears (on bass) and Life Cycle (on cello) - and since then, Dave has recorded a number of duo, trio, quartet and quintet recordings, including the Grammy- nominated Quintet dates Points of View in 1997 and Prime Directive in 1999. Four albums with Gateway, one with Circle and several with Kenny Wheeler in various settings round out what has been a most productive relationship and a fine documentation of the musical legacy of one of jazz' most influential, productive and prodigious artists.