A collection of top songs featuring Dave Holland.
Emerald Tears is a very nice showcase of Dave Holland, and is almost certain to be enjoyed by fans of the upright bass. The solo recording features less bowing and more plucking, and focuses on six originals, a Braxton tune, and Miles Davis' "Solar." ~ Joslyn Layne, Rovi
Bassist Dave Holland has been at the forefront of experimental, forward-thinking jazz ever since his formative years playing in Miles Davis' fusion ensemble. His 2013 album, Prism, finds Holland returning to his crossover funk roots with an able-bodied quartet. Featured here are former Tonight Show guitarist Kevin Eubanks, pianist/Rhodes keyboardist Craig Taborn, and drummer Eric Harland. All of these musicians have reputations for playing adventurous, genre-bending styles of jazz, making them perfectly suited for the project at hand. Holland's fourth outing on his own Dare2 Records, Prism follows his 2008 sextet date Pass It On, his 2010 octet album Pathways, and his 2010 flamenco-inspired Hands. All of those records were equally engaging and progressive in their own ways, but none showcased Holland's interest in the angular, knotty funk and fusion he explores here. Tracks like the expansive "The Watcher" and the roiling "Spirals" feature explosive, frenetic soloing from the band as well as moments of layered group interplay. Elsewhere, cuts like "The Empty Chair" and "Evolution" explore a more minimalist, modal sense of atmosphere that allow for extended and far-reaching improvisational moments. For fans of Davis' Bitches Brew period, during which Holland was a member of the band, there is plenty of expansive, abstract soloing, Rhodes keyboard squelch, and fuzz-laden guitar. We also get several introspective songs on Prism, with the poignant, midtempo Eubanks feature "The Color of Iris," and the gorgeous Harland-penned "Breathe." Of course, Holland's bass is the grounding force for the ensemble, and thankfully, he gets plenty of room to stretch out from beginning to end. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi
In 1992, Dave Holland took a break from his extended residency at ECM to record his second solo bass outing, Ones All, for Intuition. In contrast to the abstract territory Holland explored with 1977's Emerald Tears, Ones All probes a more straightforward vein and feels very much like a jazz record despite its unconventional instrumentation. Holland's seemingly limitless capacity for harmonic and rhythmic invention is completely in evidence as he moves through this collection of six originals and four standards (plus one tune by Holland's fellow bassist Michael Moore). Standout tracks include his muscular romp through Coltrane's "Mr. PC" and a sublimely tender reading of Mingus' "Pork Pie Hat." In addition to validating his stature as one of the most talented and tasteful bassists of the late 20th century, Ones All is a recording that should find an enthusiastic audience with both bass and jazz lovers alike. ~ Tom Benton, Rovi
You may have to wait a while between Dave Holland-led releases, but it's always worth it. Tremendous taste prevents Holland from making unsatisfying music. He is a great leader in the truest senses of the word -- he gives his team space, trusts their abilities and judgment, yet all the while remains firmly in command and infuses the results with his own style and personality. Prime Directive is a wonderful jazz album. These 77 minutes and nine tracks do not cheat or disappoint. The straight-ahead tunes -- composed by double-bassist Holland and his talented band mates (one each) -- all bear Holland's distinctive rhythmic patterns and harmonics. A fine example is the title track, on which Robin Eubanks on trombone and Chris Potter on saxophones hold a stimulating musical conversation over the rhythm section's driving groove. For listeners who prefer a more deliberate pace, there's the searching, contemplative "Make Believe," with Steve Nelson's lovely vibraphone work appointing the mood. On the hopeful, "A Seeking Spirit," fans will be tapping along to the rhythmic feast offered up by the leader and his pace-setting partner Billy Kilson on drums. The melancholy "Candlelight Vigil" presents Holland at his bowed best. Finally, "Wonders Never Cease" finds the entire band at the height of their collective, improvisational prowess. Prime Directive is recommended; a great leader is, indeed, hard to find. ~ Brian Bartolini, Rovi
Dave Holland is best known as one of the great jazz bassists of his generation. Pepe Habichuela is an awe-inspiring flamenco guitarist. The two of them together, with Josemi and Carlos Carmona on additional guitars as well as a pair of percussionists, prove to be a wonderful combination. Holland brings his own experience to flamenco, subsuming himself in the genre, his bass imitating a voice on the glorious "Camaron," and giving free rein to the percussionists on "Joyride." It's Habichuela's magical fingers that mesmerize, covering the scales as adroitly as any pianist and bringing a rich fullness and a stunning imagination to the sound. But what's really at work here is a group consciousness, an exploration of flamenco, and the listener shares Holland's journey. There's nothing here that's diluted -- this is hardcore flamenco, very much the real thing -- and the hard realism is one of the great pleasures. Even though it can be overwhelming at times, that's in a good way. ~ Chris Nickson, Rovi
The halfway point in ECM's excellent 20-volume Rarum series is by one of its signature talents: bassist, composer, and bandleader Dave Holland. These documents are, essentially, career retrospectives wherein the artist chooses from his performances on the label, either as a leader, soloist, or sideman. Holland offers a fantastic cross section from his own catalog, with one exception. That selection is the album's opener, "How's Never" from Homecoming, the second album by Gateway, a trio Holland was involved in with guitarist John Abercrombie and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Most of the rest come from his celebrated 1980s and 1990s recordings with then-young luminaries such as Steve Coleman, Chris Potter, Smitty Smith, Kevin and Robin Eubanks, and ECM veterans such as Kenny Wheeler, Julian Priester, and Steve Wilson. There are a couple of exceptions, such as "Inception," from a solo cello album that is one of Holland's crowning achievements, and the closing cut, the signature tune from 1972's Conference of the Birds, featuring Holland alongside vanguard legends Anthony Braxton, Sam Rivers, and pianist Barry Altschul. While one might have wished for more representation from the 1970s material, the selections here are all top-notch. This is a great introduction to one of jazz's most enigmatic and consistent virtuosos. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi