@ the Cadogan Hall
15 November 2016
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The remarkable rate at which Holland leads or collaborates
his way into fresh and exciting projects proves he has no plans
to diminish the range nor frequency of his creative drive. His band
line-ups reveal that his ear is still to the ground, listening for
and recognising fresh and deserving talent, and that many are the
musicians who are happy to perform or record with him. As Holland
prepares to celebrate his 70th year, he is currently playing with
a new group, the Aziza quartet, co-founded with Harland, saxophonist
Chris Potter, and guitarist Lionel Loueke.
Since Holland’s professional debut in the mid 1960s, that
voice has been heard in a remarkable number of different contexts.
From the electric whirlwind of Miles Davis’ “Bitches
Brew” era band to the elegant flamenco of his collaboration
with Spanish guitar legend Pepe Habichuela; accompanying the great
vocalist Betty Carter in her last years to forging a new sound with
the pioneering avant-garde quartet Circle alongside Chick Corea,
Anthony Braxton, and Barry Altschul; standing alongside legends
like Stan Getz, Hank Jones, Roy Haynes, and Sam Rivers to providing
early opportunities to now-leading players like Chris Potter, Kevin
and Robin Eubanks, or Steve Coleman; Dave Holland has been at the
forefront of jazz in many of its forms since his earliest days.
In 2013, Holland celebrated 40 years as a leader in trademark fashion,
by looking decidedly forward. On the anniversary of his first release,
“Conference of the Birds,” which featured Rivers, Braxton
and Altschul, Holland unveiled his latest quartet, Prism, a visceral
electric band featuring his longtime collaborator Kevin Eubanks
along with keyboardist Craig Taborn and drummer Eric Harland.
In addition to Prism, Holland continues to lead his Grammy-winning
big band; his acclaimed quintet with saxophonist Chris Potter, trombonist
Robin Eubanks, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, and drummer Nate Smith;
and the Overtone quartet, with Potter, Harland, and pianist Jason
Moran. In recent years Holland has been performing in a duo context
with pianist Kenny Barron and with flamenco legend Pepe Habichuela;
a follow up to “Hands,” his 2010 recording with Habichuela,
is due in the fall of 2013. And he continues to explore his solo
voice, as documented on the albums “Emerald Tears” (1977),
“Ones All” (1993), and “Life Cycle” (1982),
a solo cello recording.
Since 2005, Holland’s output has been released on his own
Dare2 Records label, founded so that the bassist could exercise
greater control over the recording and release of his music. The
move came on the heels of a fruitful relationship with ECM Records
that had lasted for more than three decades. Attentive to devising
a one-of-the-kind packaging to match the product within, Holland
drafted world-famous graphic designer Niklaus Troxler to craft the
label’s distinctively bold and colourful look.
Born in Wolverhampton, England in 1946, Holland shifted seamlessly
between jazz traditions from the beginning. While still in his native
country, he collaborated with forward-thinking peers like saxophonists
Jon Surman and Evan Parker and pianists Chris McGregor and John
Taylor while also playing with more traditional forebears from an
earlier generational, such as saxophonists Tubby Hayes and Ronnie
Scott. It was while playing at Scott’s storied Soho jazz club
in 1968 that Holland was spotted by Miles Davis, who immediately
hired the young bassist for his ground-breaking electric ensemble.
Over the next two years, Holland would appear on Davis’ landmark
recordings “Filles de Kilimanjaro,” “In a Silent
Way” and “Bitches Brew,” and meet many of the
artists with whom he would continue to revolutionize modern jazz.
They include such renowned names as Chick Corea, with whom he co-founded
the short-lived but influential quartet Circle; Jack DeJohnette,
a frequent rhythm section partner during Holland’s ECM years
and co-leader of the collective Gateway trio with Holland and guitarist
John Abercrombie; and Herbie Hancock, with whom Holland would reunite
in the mid-90s and record such genre-defying albums as “The
New Standard” and 2008 Grammy Album of the Year award winner
“River: The Joni Letters.”
After leaving Davis’ group, Holland embarked on his solo
career with the release of “Conference of the Birds”
in 1973, marking the beginning of several key relationships: with
ECM, with Braxton, and with Sam Rivers. At the same time, he was
a prolific sideman both in the jazz world and without, where he
recorded with rock and folk musicians including Bonnie Raitt, John
Hartford, and bluegrass legend Vassar Clements.
The 1980s saw the formation of Holland’s first working quintet,
featuring alto saxophonist Steve Coleman, trumpeter Kenny Wheeler,
and trombonist Julian Priester, which would gradually transform
into the quartet with Coleman, drummer Marvin “Smitty”
Smith, and Kevin Eubanks that recorded “Extensions”
in 1988 – the only one of Holland’s recordings to include
future Tonight Show bandleader prior to their reunion in Prism.
The foundations for most of the groups that Holland currently leads
were laid in the 1990s, when he founded his current quintet and
his much-acclaimed big band. The latter won two Grammy awards in
the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album category, for its debut, “What
Goes Around,” in 2002 and for its follow-up, 2005’s
“Overtime,” both on “Dare2.” A third Grammy
came in 1999 in the Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual
or Group category, for the all-star quintet record “Like Minds”
(Concord), with Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, and Roy Haynes.
A Fellow of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London,
where he studied from 1965-68, Holland has received honorary doctorates
from Birmingham Conservatoire in England and both Boston’s
Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory, where he
has been a visiting artist in residence since 2005. He served as
artistic director for the Banff Centre Jazz Workshop in Alberta,
Canada for seven years in the 1980s and is currently an artist in
residence at the Royal Academy of Music and the University of Miami.