Dave Holland


Jazz - International Jazz Artist in Residence 2013–2015

One of the biggest names in jazz for five decades now, as a bassist with artists such as Miles Davis, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock

As a leader, co-leader and side musician, has recorded over a hundred albums

A master of tone and rhythm, the bassist, composer and bandleader Dave is now in his fifth decade as a jazz performer. He is not only one of the most accomplished bass players in jazz, but he brings a vivid personal imprint to his music and performs with a sound that transcends any definitions of genre or format. He is a seminal figure in post-1960s jazz, but has never allowed his work to be limited by tradition.

Born in 1946, the Wolverhampton England native was a steady figure on the London jazz scene when Miles Davis saw him at the fabled Soho jazz club Ronnie Scott’s in 1968, playing in a combo that opened for the Bill Evans Trio. A month later, Dave was on the bandstand with Davis at Count Basie’s Harlem nightclub. He then joined the rhythm section on Filles de Kilimanjaro, and the revolutionary In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew sessions.

He recalls that one of his earliest and hardest lessons was how to make his own space in Davis’s music, which at the time was electronically evolving.  Eager to pursue his own new sounds, Dave quit Davis’s band, giving up the arena gigs to commit to the creation of his own music.

Dave was especially prolific in the 1970s. Solo, and in collaboration, he became a dominant voice in the new music. It was his strength as a collaborator that marked many of his most notable efforts of the decade. His ongoing association with saxophonist Sam Rivers, multi-reedist Anthony Braxton and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler saw Dave’s presence on several important sessions. Joining forces with DeJohnette again and guitarist John Abercrombie, he joined the collective Gateway trio from 1975–77 recording two albums for ECM.

He also continued to enjoy strong collaborations with a vast range of celebrated figures from the previous generation of jazz icons such as drummer Billy Higgins, pianist Hank Jones, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes and Gary Burton. During the 1990s, he renewed an affiliation, begun in the 1970s, with tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson. Dave also reunited with vocalist Betty Carter, touring and recording the live album Feed the Fire. Herbie Hancock invited Dave to tour with him in 1992, subsequently recording The New Standard.

Throughout the ’90s into the new century, Dave moved from strength to strength, both building and consolidating his position as one of jazz’s important and creative bandleaders. He launched his third quartet, which introduced the vibraphonist Steve Nelson to his ensembles. He also formed his current quintet, which includes tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, trombonist Robin Eubanks and, a more recent addition, drummer Nate Smith.

In 2005, Dave formed Dare2 Records, after a long-standing relationship with ECM Records, the label where he had developed into a signature artist. He created Dare2 to have more control over the entire process of releasing an album. He has five albums on Dare2, including the Grammy-award winning Overtime (2005), Critical Mass (2006) and Pass It On (2008), recorded with his fan-favourite quintet. Pathways (2010), the debut of the Dave Holland Octet, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Large Ensemble Album.

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