Biography, albums, concert
review, concert with Jim Halla
Article added in March 2000
Biography of Dave Holland
Dave Holland was born in Wolverhampton, England, in 1946. At
the age of 4, he started playing the ukelele, at 10, the guitar, and at
13, the bass guitar. He formed his first band and worked in local clubs
and dances. At 15, he quit school to make a living as a musician. Exposure
to the music of Ray Brown and Leroy Vinnegar had a great impact on him
in this period and prompted the transition from electric to acoustic bass.
In 1963, Holland moved to London and began studying with James E. Merritt,
principal bassist of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. On Merritts recommendation
he applied the following year to the Guidhall School of Music and Drama
and was accepted on full scholarship. By the second year at the school
he was the principal bassist in its orchestra. He also started working
with jazz musicians like John Mc Laughlin, John Taylor and John Stevens.
Holland's bass inspirations in the period included Charles Mingus and Ron
Carter. The music of Bela Bartók left a particular profound impression
By 1967, Holland was appearing frequently at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club
with major artists including Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Joe Henderson.
Miles Davis visited the club in July 1968 and asked him to join his band.
A few weeks later, Holland moved to New York. Growing up in a working class
family in the Midlands, he felt it a liberation to leave England and its
class society mentality. For the next two years he toured with Miles Davis
and appeared on a number of albums with him, including the milestones In
A Silent Way and Bitches Brew.
Dave Holland left the band in 1970 in order to form his pionieering
Circle band, together with Chick Corea, Anthony Braxton and Barry Altschul.
The group lasted only one year but had a great impact. Hot Jazz
and Stereo Review voted their Paris Concert Album of the
Year. In 1972, Holland joined Stan Getz's quartet for a year and started
his long musical relationship with Sam Rivers. He recorded the album Conference
of the Birds with Braxton, Altschul and Rivers. In 1973, Holland started
to work with Anthony Braxton in duo and with Sam Rivers in duo and other
settings. In 1975, Holland took part in the formation of the group Gateway,
which continues to tour and record. In 1976, he played for a few months
with Betty Carter and, in 1977, he recorded an album with solo bass music
entitled Emerald Tears. He began performing solo bass concerts.
Later, he formed his first full-time working band, a quintet featuring
Kenny Wheeler, Julian Priester, Steve Coleman and Steve Ellington. Their
three albums are Jumpin' In, Seeds of Time and The Razor's
Edge. They toured until 1987. Then, Holland started playing in a trio
format with Jack De Johnette and Steve Coleman. They recorded the album
In 1988, he formed a new quartet with Steve Coleman, Kevin Eubanks and
Marvin "Smitty" Smith. Their album Extensions was voted Album of
the Year in the Downbeat Critics Poll in 1989.
Since the 1970s, Dave Holland has been working as a teacher. In 1983
for instance, he was appointed artistic director of the summer jazz workshop
at the Banff School in Baff, Canada, a position he held until 1990. From
1987 to 1990, he was a full-time faculty member of the New England Conservatory
of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
During 1990, Holland was part of a world tour with Jack De Johnette's
Parallel Realities group, featuring Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny. In
1992, Holland began appearing as a regular member of Herbie Hancocks trio
and contributed to Joe Henderson's Grammy Award-winning So Near.
New solo concerts and his second solo bass album, Ones All, followed
in 1993. A year later, he formed a quartet with Steve Nelson, Eric Person
and Gene Jackson. He recorded again with Gateway and performed with the
Holland Quartet. In 1996, he took part in a world tour with Herbie Hancock's
quartet and also toured with Gateway and with his own group. He 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. Holland played a crucial role in Kenny Wheeler's Angel Song,
which was voted Album of the Year in England's The Guardian, America's
Review and France's Jazzman.
In the summer of 1997, the current Dave Holland Quintet was formed,
with Steve Wilson, Robin Eubanks, Steve Nelson and Billy Kilson. Their
two albums are Points of View (1998) and Prime Directive
(1999), with Chris Potter instead of Steve Wilson (sax). Holland also plays
in a quartet with Wheeler, Konitz and Frisell, and in a trio with Anour
Brahem and John Surman.
Biography of Jim Hall
Jim Hall was born in Buffalo, USA, in 1930. At the age of ten,
he began to play the guitar. He attended the Cleveland Institute of Music
and left Ohio for L.A. in 1955, where he joined the Chico Hamilton Quintet.
He was a member of Jimmy Giuffre Trio with Bob Brookmeyer in 1957. In the
late 1950s, he was part of Ella Fitzgerald's tour to South America. He
discovered bossa nova in its land of origin, Brazil. In the 1960s, he was
part of the bossa nova-craze and recorded What's New with Sonny
Rollins in 1962 and Take Ten and Bossa Antigua with Paul
Desmond in 1963. He also worked with Art Farmer and Lee Konitz and recorded
Bridge with Sonny Rollins. As an "innovator in duo experimental combinations"
(Feather/Gitler), Jim Hall led duos with Ron Carter or Jack Six. He played
in small groups from 1966 onwards and in the 1970s with Bob Brookmeyer.
In 1984, he perfomed a symphony composed by Brookmeyer, recorded with the
Stockholm Radio Symphony Orchestra. He recorded two albums with classical
music with Itzhak Perlman and André Previn. In 1987, he recorded
the album Power of Three live at the Jazz festival in Montreux,
together with the late Michel Petrucciani and Wayne Shorter. In the 1990s,
Jim Hall led his own quartet with Gil Goldstein, Steve LaSpina and Terry
Clarke. He continued recording in duo settings with Bill Evans, George
Shearing, Mitchell, and Ron Carter. Jim Hall's latest CD is Jim Hall
& Pat Metheny (1999). Even before Art Tatum, Jim Hall considers
Bela Bartók his most important influence (as we have seen, also
Holland was profoundly impressed by Bartók): "He influenced my linear
writing; he was my hero."
concert at the Tonhalle Zurich, February 17, 2000
Dave Holland & Jim Hall were originally supposed to mark the end
of a memorable jazz evening in Zurich, playing after the Brad Mehldau Trio.
The two old stars were wise enough to play first. Jim Hall prefers clear
and simply structured music. Hall's and Holland's subtle and intimistic
music would not have been shown to its best advantage after the flamboyant
After a difficult start with Frissel Frazzle, written by Jim
Hall and dedicated to his friend Bill Frissell, the duo rapidly unfolded
its unpretentious charm. The Dave Holland compostion Ario with its
bossa nova-touch created a warm ambience. Holland had written the tune
years ago after he returned from a trip to Rio. Dream Steps, composed
by Hall for Holland, demanded all the bassist's virtuosity. From close
range, it was impressive to see what a physical engagement such a concert
is for a bass-player. The following tune, Blues for C. M. was the
most emotional and most melodic piece of the evening. Written by Dave Holland
and dedicated to his model Charles Mingus, it ended with an explicit blues
feeling. The two musicians supported each other wherever they could. None
of them wanted to show off to the detriment of the other.
Years ago, Dave Holland had been introduced to calypso music by Sonny
Rollins. In remembering that fact, Holland had dedicated his composition
Street Dance to Rollins. The interpretation of the piece by Holland
& Hall was more a spiritualized jazz-version of calypso. Only at times
did it show the emotions and joy of life that is so charateristic of the
music originating in the Antilles. Skylark was the next tune they
played. Jim Hall started with a solo, Holland joining him later in a subdued,
subtle way. The longer the duo played, the better it became.
Dervish marked the official end of their concert, completed by My
Funny Valentine as their only encore. A quiet and gentle concert to
Prime Directive, 1999. Dave Holland Quintet. Get the album from Amazon.de,
Dave Holland: Not For Nothin'. ECM, 2001. Get the CD from
Dave Holland Big Band: What Goes Around. ECM, 2002. Get the album from Amazon.de,
Dave Holland. Photograph copyright: Laurence Labat - ECM Records.