Dave Holland

Dave Holland
Dave Holland
Background information
Born October 1, 1946 (1946-10-01) (age 65)
Wolverhampton, Staffordshire
EnglandUnited Kingdom
Genres Jazz, avant-garde, jazz fusion
Occupations Musician, composer, bandleader
Instruments Double bass, bass guitar, guitar, ukulele
Years active 1967–present
Labels Dare2
Associated acts Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Circle, Anthony Braxton, Kenny Wheeler, Gateway, Chris Potter
Website Dave Holland.com

Dave Holland (born October 1, 1946) is an English jazz double bassist, composer and bandleader who has been performing and recording for five decades. He has lived in the United States for 40 years.[1]

His work ranges from pieces for solo performance to big band. Holland runs his own independent record label, Dare2, which he launched in 2005. He has explained his musical philosophy by quoting fellow jazz artist Sam Rivers. "Sam said, ‘Don’t leave anything out — play all of it,’ ”

Holland has played with some of the greatest names in jazz, and has participated in several classic recording sessions.



Born in Wolverhampton, England, Holland taught himself how to play stringed instruments, beginning at four on the ukulele, then graduating to guitar and later bass guitar. He quit school at the age of 15 to pursue his profession in a top 40 band, but soon gravitated to jazz. After seeing an issue of Down Beat where Ray Brown had won the critics' poll for best bass player, Holland went to a record store, and bought a couple of LPs featuring Brown backing pianist Oscar Peterson. He also bought two Leroy Vinnegar albums (Leroy Walks! and Leroy Walks Again) because the bassist was posed with his instrument on the cover. Within a week, Holland traded in his bass guitar for an acoustic bass and began practicing with the records. In addition to Brown and Vinnegar, Holland was drawn to the bassists Charles Mingus and Jimmy Garrison.

After moving to London in 1964, Holland played acoustic bass in small venues and studied with James Edward Merrett, principal bassist of the Philharmonia Orchestra and, later, the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Merrett trained him to sight read and then recommended he apply to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Holland received a fulltime scholarship for the three-year program. At 20, Holland was keeping a busy schedule in school, studios and Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, London’s premier jazz club, where he often played in bands that supported such touring American jazz saxophonists as Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Joe Henderson. He also linked up with other British jazz musicians, including guitarist John McLaughlin, saxophonist Evan Parker, reedsman John Surman, South Africa-born London-based pianist Chris McGregor, and drummer John Stevens, and performed on the Spontaneous Music Ensemble's classic 1968 album Karyobin. He also began a working relationship with Canada-born, England-based trumpeter Kenny Wheeler that continues today.

With Miles Davis

In 1968, Miles Davis and Philly Joe Jones heard him at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, playing in a combo that opened for the Bill Evans Trio. Jones told Holland that Davis wanted him to join his band (replacing Ron Carter). Davis left the UK before Holland could contact him directly, and two weeks later Holland was given three days' notice to fly to New York for an engagement at Count Basie's nightclub. He arrived the night before, staying with Jack DeJohnette, a previous acquaintance. The following day Herbie Hancock took him to the club, and his two years with Davis began. This was also Hancock's last gig as Davis's pianist, as he left afterwards for a honeymoon in Brazil and was replaced by Chick Corea when he couldn't return for an engagement due to illness. Holland's first recordings with Davis were in September 1968, and he appears on half of the album Filles de Kilimanjaro (with Davis, Corea, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams).

Holland was a member of Davis's rhythm section through the summer of 1970; he appears on the albums In a Silent Way and Bitches' Brew. All three of his studio recordings with Davis were important in the evolution of jazz fusion.[citation needed] In the first year of his tenure with Davis, Holland played primarily upright bass. By the end of 1969, he played electric bass guitar (often treated with wah-wah pedal and other electronic effects) with greater frequency as Davis's music became increasingly electronic, amp-based and funky. Holland was also a member of Davis's working group during this time, unlike many of the musicians who would appear only on the trumpeter's studio recordings. The so-called "lost quintet" of Davis, Shorter, Corea, Holland and Jack DeJohnette was active in 1969 but never made any studio recordings as a quintet. A 1970 live recording of this group plus percussionist Airto Moreira, Live at the Fillmore East, March 7, 1970: It's About That Time, was issued in 2001. Steve Grossman replaced Shorter in early 1970; Keith Jarrett joined the group as a second keyboardist thereafter, and Gary Bartz replaced Grossman during the summer of 1970.

Post-Davis and the 1970s

After leaving Davis's group, Holland briefly joined the avant-garde jazz group Circle with Chick Corea, Barry Altschul and Anthony Braxton. This started a 34-year association with the ECM record label. After recording a few albums, Circle disbanded when Corea was replaced by Sam Rivers. 1972 saw the recording of Conference of the Birds, with Rivers, Altschul and Braxton – Holland's first recording as a leader, and the beginning of a long musical relationship with Rivers. The title of the album is taken from that of a 4,500 line epic poem by Persian Sufist writer, Farid al-Din Attar.

Holland worked as a leader and as a sideman with many other jazz artists in the 1970s, including Stan Getz and the Gateway Trio with John Abercrombie and DeJohnette. The Gateway trio released two influential modern jazz albums in 1975 and 1977, and reformed in 1994 for a recording session which yielded another two albums. During the mid-'70s, Holland recorded several important albums with Braxton – including "New York, Fall 1974" (1974) and "Five Pieces (1975)" – that were released on Arista Records. His performances with Braxton also were documented on live recordings such as "Quartet (Dortmund)" (1976) and "Town Hall 1972" (1972), originally released on the Swiss Hat Hut label. Holland also recorded duo sessions with saxophonist Rivers and fellow bassist Barre Phillips, and the solo bass album Emerald Tears. As a sideman, he appeared on rock and pop recordings as well, working with singer Bonnie Raitt on her 1972 album Give It Up.

The 1980s

Holland formed his first working quintet in 1983, and over the next four years released Jumpin’ In, Seeds of Time, and Razor’s Edge, featuring alto saxophonist Steve Coleman, trumpeter Wheeler and trombonist Julian Priester. Subsequently, he formed the Dave Holland Trio (with Coleman and DeJohnette) for the 1988 album Triplicate, and teamed with Coleman, electric guitarist Kevin Eubanks and drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith for Extensions. He also recorded Life Cycle, an album of compositions played on solo cello.

The bassist also continued to collaborate with his peers, often connecting with legendary figures from the previous generation of jazz icons. In 1989, Holland teamed with drummer Billy Higgins and pianist Hank Jones to record The Oracle, and joined drummer Roy Haynes and guitarist Pat Metheny in 1989 to record Question and Answer (album).

The 1990s and 2000s

During the ‘90s, he renewed an affiliation, begun in the 1970s, with Joe Henderson, joining the tenor saxophonist on So Near (So Far), a tribute to Miles Davis, Porgy & Bess, and Joe Henderson Big Band. Holland also reunited with vocalist Betty Carter, touring and recording the live album Feed the Fire (1993). Fellow Davis alumnus Herbie Hancock invited Holland to tour with him in 1992, subsequently recording The New Standard. Holland joined Hancock’s band again in 1996. (More recently, he was part of the sessions for River: The Joni Letters, winner of the 2008 Grammy for Album of the Year.)

As a leader, Holland formed his third quartet – and released Dream of the Elders (1995), which introduced the vibraphonist Steve Nelson to his ensembles. Holland also formed his current quintet, which includes tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, trombonist Robin Eubanks and, a more recent addition, drummer Nate Smith. Their recordings to date are Points of View, Not for Nothin, Prime Directive, Extended Play: Live at Birdland and Critical Mass. In addition to releasing four quintet albums on ECM, Holland debuted his Big Band, which released What Goes Around in 2002. The album won Holland his first Grammy award as a leader, in the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album category. The second Big Band recording, Overtime (2005), was released on Holland's own Dare2 record label and again won the Grammy in the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album category.

Holland’s work with the group won wide public recognition that year. He won Downbeat's Critics Poll for Musician of the Year, Big Band of the Year, and Acoustic Bassist of the Year (he also garnered top bassist in the 2006 poll). The Jazz Journalist’s Association also honored him as Musician and Acoustic Bassist of the Year. He was the recipient of the prestigious Miles Davis Award at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Also in 2005, Holland formed Dare2 Records, an independent record label that allowed him to have more control over his recordings. Besides Overtime, the label has released the quintet recording Critical Mass (2006) and the sextet recording Pass It On (2008). Pathways, the debut recording of Holland’s octet, was released on March 23, 2010. On October 5, 2010, Holland released Hands, a studio album featuring flamenco guitarist Pepe Habichuela.

In 2009, Holland was a co-founder of an all-star group called The Overtone Quartet. The group consisted of Holland on bass, Chris Potter on tenor saxophone, Jason Moran on piano, and Eric Harland on drums. The group toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.

Off the bandstand, Holland has received honorary doctorates from the New England Conservatory (Boston), where he held a fulltime teaching position in 1987–88 and where he has been visiting artist in residence since 2005; Berklee College of Music (Boston); and Birmingham Conservatoire (Birmingham, England). He was also named Fellow of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). From 1982-'89, Holland served as the artistic director of the Banff Summer Jazz Workshop through the Banff School of Fine Arts in Alberta, Canada. In addition, he has taught workshops and master classes around the world at universities and music schools and is President of the UK based National Youth Jazz Collective.

Holland currently resides in upstate New York.


As leader

With Gateway

  • Gateway (ECM, 1975)
  • Gateway 2 (ECM, 1977)
  • Homecoming (ECM, 1994)
  • In the Moment (ECM, 1994)

With Scolohofo

  • Oh! (Blue Note, 2003)


  • 2004 - Rarum, Vol. 10: Selected Recordings (ECM, 2004)

As sideman

With Claudia Acuna

With George Adams

  • Sound Suggestions (ECM, 1979)

With Anouar Brahem

  • Thimar (ECM, 1997)

With Anthony Braxton

  • New York, Fall 1974 (Arista, 1974)
  • Five Pieces (1975) (Arista, 1975)
  • Anthony Braxton Live (Arista, 1975)
  • The Montreux/Berlin Concerts [live] (Arista, 1975)
  • Quartet (Dortmund) [live] (1976) HatART

With Betty Carter

  • Feed the Fire (Verve, 1993)

With Chick Corea

With Circle

  • Circling In (1970)
  • Circulus (1970)
  • Circle 1: Live in Germany Concert (1970)
  • Paris Concert (1971)
  • Circle 2: Gathering (1971)

With Miles Davis

With Bill Frisell

With Herbie Hancock

  • River: The Joni Letters (Verve, 2006)

With John Hartford

With Joe Henderson

  • So Near, So Far (Musings for Miles) (1993)

With Lee Konitz

  • Satori (1974)

With Joe Lovano

  • Trio Fascination: Edition One (Blue Note, 1997)

With Sam Rivers

  • Sizzle (Impulse!, 1975)
  • Waves (Tomato, 1978)
  • Contrasts (ECM, 1981)

With Tomasz Stańko

  • Balladyna (ECM, 1976)

With Collin Walcott

With Kenny Wheeler


As a leader

  • 2000: Dejohnette, Hancock, Holland and Metheny - Live in Concert
  • 2005: Dave Holland Quintet - Live in Freiburg
  • 2009: Dave Holland Quintet: Vortex
  • 2009: Dave Holland Quintet - Live from the Zelt-Musik-Festival, Freiburg 1986

As a sideman

  • 2004: Miles Electric - A Different Kind of Blue


External links

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