Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Holland, Dave (David)

Holland, Dave (David), bassist, cello/piano/composer; b. Wolverhampton, England, 1 October 1946. He was drawn to music at an early age, starting with the ukulele at age 4, moving to the guitar at 10 and then to the bass guitar at 13. Other than a brief period of piano lessons, in these years he was largely self-taught, learning the popular music of the day from songbooks and the radio. At 13 he and a few friends formed a band and began playing at the local clubs and dances. By the age of 15 he had joined another band, Steve Brett and the Mavericks, and as that group was starting to work regularly, he decided to leave school and try and earn a living as a musician.

It was around this time that in a search to expand his ideas on the bass guitar, he began listening to jazz and heard on records the Ray Brown and Leroy Vinnegar. There were four records that he bought all on the same day when I was 15. I went out and bought a couple of records with Ray on them, both by Oscar Peterson. One was called Affinity and the other was called Night Train. While I was at the record store I was going through the record collection, and I found two records with a bass player on the front, and they turned out to be Leroy Vinnegar's records, Leroy Walks! And Leroy Walks Again. Within a couple of weeks, I'd gone to the music store and got an acoustic bass and started practicing with them.

Although he was still working as a bass guitarist, he began going to jazz clubs with his double bass and sitting in with the local jazz players. In the summer of 1963, at the age of 17, he was offered a job playing double bass with a dance band that was working at a holiday resort for the summer season. This was followed by a short tour with a big band that was accompanying the singer Johnny Ray, and then came an offer of a job in London playing music in a restaurant for nine months.

As soon as he moved to London, he began studying with James E. Merritt, who was the principal bassist of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and teaching at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. In the spring of 1964, on Mr. Merritt's recommendation, he applied for admission to a three-year program at the Guildhall School and after taking the entrance exam, was admitted in September of that year with a full scholarship. This began a period of intense musical experiences for Dave. By his second year at the school he was the principle bassist in the school orchestra and was also beginning to work with a wide variety of people in the London jazz community. His early jazz work was with bands that were playing in the New Orleans style, but he was soon working with many other groups that ranged in style from swing to modern.

By 1966 he had begun playing with John Surman, John McLaughlin, Evan Parker, Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Chris MacGregor and other London based musicians who were being influenced by the contemporary jazz innovations of the times. He was particularly inspired during this period by bassists Charles Mingus, Scott LaFaro, Jimmy Garrison, Ron Carter and Gary Peacock. His studies at school also introduced him to the works of many contemporary classical composers and they also had an important influence on him, particularly the music of Bela Bartok. Other activities during this time included free-lance work with chamber orchestras, and a variety of studio work, recording music for television, film, radio and records. During period 1966-8 he also worked with the Alan Littlejohns-Tony Milliner Sextet, Roy Budd Trio, Alan Cohen Big Band, John Stevens, Mike Westbrook, Humphrey Lyttelton, Ronnie Scott, and Tubby Hayes.

By 1967 Dave was appearing frequently at Ronnie Scott's with Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Joe Henderson. It was during an engagement there in July of 1968 with Elaine Delmar that Miles Davis visited the club, heard Dave playing, and asked him to join his band. Dave moved to New York a few weeks later and for the next two years toured and appeared on a number of recordings with Miles including In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew. When not on the road with Miles, he worked with many others in the New York music community.

In late 1970 Dave left Miles' band and together with Chick Corea, and with Anthony Braxton and Barry Altschul they founded the group Circle. It was at this time that he started performing on cello as well as bass. After working together for a year Circle disbanded, and early in 1972 Dave joined Stan Getz's group. He also had the opportunity during this period to work briefly with Thelonious Monk, and began what was to be a long musical relationship with Sam Rivers. Later that year he recorded his first album as a leader, the widely acclaimed Conference of the Birds. He also began teaching privately and as a guest teacher at the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, New York, run by Karl and Ingrid Berger.

At the beginning of 1973 Dave left the Getz quartet and began concentrating on working with Anthony Braxton in duo and group situations, and with Sam Rivers in duo and other settings. In 1975 he took part in the formation of Gateway, a trio with John Abercrombie and Jack DeJohnette, a fellow band member from the Miles Davis band. Gateway continues to tour and record up to the present time. After working with Betty Carter for a few months in 1976, Dave spent the remainder of the decade working and recording with Sam Rivers. He began performing solo concerts.

The 1980's started with Dave continuing to work with Sam Rivers, but in 1981 he left the band so that he could turn his attention to putting together his own group. The first version of the group was a quintet featuring Kenny Wheeler, Julian Priester, Steve Coleman and Steve Ellington. Later members included Marvin "Smitty" Smith and Robin Eubanks. The group toured extensively until 1987. Following the disbanding of the quintet Dave continued working in a trio format. He also performed with Hank Jones and recorded two albums with him, one of them with Billy Higgins. In 1988 Dave formed a new band, a quartet with Steve Coleman, Kevin Eubanks and Marvin "Smitty" Smith, and in 1989 the group recorded Extensions, an album that was voted "Album of the Year" in Downbeat magazine. Dave also continued with his teaching activities throughout the 1980's. In 1983 he was appointed artistic director of the summer jazz workshop at the Banff School in Banff, Canada, a position he held until 1990, and from 1987 to 1990 he was a full time faculty member of the the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.

During 1990 Dave was part of a world tour with Jack DeJohnette's Parallel Realities, a group featuring Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny, and also performed on the Grammy nominated recording, Question and Answer, with Metheny and Roy Haynes. In 1992 Dave began appearing as a regular member of Herbie Hancock's trio and also performed on Joe Henderson's Grammy Award winning recording So Near, So Far. A tour of Europe performing solo concerts started 1993 off.. Later that year he took part in an extensive tour with a special project featuring Betty Carter, Geri Allen and Jack DeJohnette. This group was recorded live at the Royal Festival Hall in London and this recording was released in 1994. Early in 1994 Dave formed a new quartet with Steve Nelson, Eric Person and Gene Jackson . The summer was spent touring with Gateway. Dave's quartet performed in Europe and America in 1995. The remainder of the year he toured both with his group and as a member of Herbie Hancock's trio with Gene Jackson.

During 1996 Dave took part in a world tour with Herbie Hancock's quartet, and also toured with Gateway and with his own group. He was active in the studio and performed on three Grammy nominated albums: Michael Brecker's Tales from the Hudson, Herbie Hancock's The New Standard, and Billy Childs' The Child Within. In the summer of 1997 Dave formed a new group featuring Steve Wilson (saxophone)--later replaced by Chris Potter--Robin Eubanks (trombone), Steve Nelson (vibraphone) and Billy Kilson (drums). He also performed with Herbie Hancock's New Standard group and Michael Brecker's Tales from the Hudson band, and participated in Joe Henderson's Porgy and Bess project.

Both of the quintet's previous albums, for instance, Points of View and Prime Directive, were Grammy-nominated; the band was voted #1 Acoustic Jazz Group of the Year in the Down Beat Critics' Poll, Best Combo of the Year in the Bell Atlantic jazz Awards: the Jazz Journalists Association gave its Live Performance of the Year Award and Best Small Ensemble Award to the Holland Quintet, voted Album of the Year and also gave Holland prizes as Bass Player of the Year (twice) and Musician of the Year. Holland has also been #1 Bass Player in the Down Beat Critics Poll for three consecutive years and in 2000 received an Honorary Doctorate from the Berklee School of Music. In the midst of this 'awards-bonanza', quintet saxophonist Chris Potter became, at 29, the youngest musician ever to win the Danish Jazzpar prize, Europe's highest honour for a jazz player.

The group has made its mark by insisting on being "a group" in an age of all-star projects, and by the time-honored route of going on the road and staying there. Itineraries have taken the unit all over North and South America, Europe and Asia, including a tour of China. Despite the individual members' crowded schedules, each of them makes the quintet a priority. Recently, they've been clocking in thrice with Holland, also appearing as members of his newly formed octet and big band.

Music for Two Basses (1971); Conference of the Birds (1972); Dave Holland, Sam Rivers (1976); Dave Holland, Vol. 1,2  (1976); Emerald Tears (1977); Life Cycle (1982); Jumpin' In (1983); Seeds of Time (1984); Razor's Edge (1987); Triplicate (1988); Extensions (1989); Ones All (1993); Gateway: Homecoming (1994); Dream of the Elders (1995); Points Of View (1997)

Television broadcasts:
Several performances with and interviews about Miles Davis; Holland Quintet, Freiburg festival, 1986

D. Detheridge: Holland - The Man Miles Wants, in: Melody Maker, 27.Jul.1968
J. Atterton: Dave Holland at Home in Harlem (Miles Davis Quintet), in: Melody Maker, 7.Sep.1968
Leonard Feather: Dave Holland with Miles. Honorary Soul Brother from Wolverhampton, in: Melody Maker, 26.Oct.1968
Leonard Feather: Blindfold Test. Dave Holland, in: Down Beat (26.Dec.1968)
R. Williams: What Made Miles Davis Go Pop? (Dave Holand Talks...), in: Melody Maker, 13.Jun.1970
Gudrun Endress: Circle, in: Jazz Podium (Feb.1971)
Gudrun Endress: Emanzipierter Bass. Dave Holland, in: Jazz Podium (Nov.1973)
Leonard Feather: Dave Holland, in: Leonard Feather: The Pleasures of Jazz, New York 1976 [book]
Bret Primack: Dave Holland. Diverse and Dedicated, in: Down Beat (18.May 1978)
Ekkehard Jost: Jazzmusiker. 1982 [book]
Willard Jenkins Jr.: Dave Holland. Jumpin' Back In, in: Jazz Times, Nov.1984
William Kinnally: Academic Affairs. Dave Holland at Banff, in: Jazziz (Feb/Mar.1986)
Jan Rensen: Bassist Dave Holland, in: Jazz Nu (Oct.1988)
Leslie Gourse: Dave Holland. Miles Ahead, in: Jazz Times, Apr.1989
Howard Mandel: Dave Holland. Creative Collaborator, in: Down Beat (Oct.1989)
Bill Smith: Conference of the Birds. Dave Holland, Jazz Educator, in: Coda (Dec/Jan.1989/1990)
Dany Michel: Dave Holland. Racines et traditions, in: Jazz Magazine (Sep.1991)
Isio Saba: Dave Holland. La lezione di Miles, in: Blu Jazz (Jun.1993)
Mario Benso: Dave Holland, in: Cuadernos de Jazz (Sep/Oct.1994)
Chip Stern: Gateway Trio. An Axis as Bold as Love, in: Jazz Times (Dec.1995) (with John Abercrombie, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette)
Jeroen de Valk. Dave Holland, in: Jazz Nu (Mar.1996)
Marcus A. Woelfle: Dave Holland, in: Jazz Podium (Apr.1996)
Romain Grosman: Dave Holland. Comme un fleure tranquille, in: Jazz Hot (Apr.1996)
Jon Andrews: Dave Holland. Ears Clean, New Dream, in: Down Beat (Jul.1996)
Angelo Leonardi: Dave Holland, in: Musica Jazz (Feb.1998)
Brian Priestley: Dave Holland. Dreams of the Elders, in: Jazzwise Magazine (Apr.1998)
Markus Vanhoefer: Dave Holland. Ein Interview, in: Jazzthetik (Apr.1998)

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