Jazz CD of the Month: Dave Holland / Prism / Dare 2 Records

Oct 13, 2013

Veteran jazz bassist Dave Holland is back with one of his boldest sessions in years. Fans of his straight ahead jazz recordings may be startled to hear the relentless intensity of Prism, but it shouldn't be surprising given Holland's roots in the electric jazz explosion of the late 1960s.

Bassist Dave Holland, who was born October 1, 1946, was a member of the Miles Davis band in the late 1960s.  During 1969 the quintet toured Europe.  Several performances of the band were caught on tape and one was videotaped; these are presented on a recent box set, Live in Europe 1969  that is reviewed in detail on these pages. Holland was a match for the daring artistry of the Miles Davis band of the time, which went effortlessly from straight ahead jazz to the frontiers of avant-garde experimentation.

Holland brings his own quartet into the studio for the current release. The bassist is joined by Kevin Eubanks, guitar, Craig Taborn, piano and fender rhodes, and Eric Harland, drums for a set of all original songs by the band members. Nine songs make the program which shifts leisurely from relaxed grooves to fiery statements of electric jazz. Kevin Eubanks' guitar is featured prominently here taking the position that would be otherwise that of a horn line in Holland's larger groups. Fans of progressive jazz will like this edgier session by a legendary bassist who is no stranger to jazz-rock. 

The session begins with the explosive "The Watcher", where Eubanks announces his presence on the session forcefully. This is a departure for Holland to put a guitar as a front-line instrument. Previous Holland recordings have had the horn section as the primary front line instruments.  In contrast to the dynamic opener,  "The Empty Chair(for Clare)" is a slow burner for the quartet. Later,  Eubanks demonstrates his ability at mellow balladry in "The Color of Iris".  For "The True Meaning of Determination", Holland's bass starts off the tune which becomes an energetic romp for the band. Craig Taborn makes an immense contribution to "Evolution". Taborn, on Fender Rhodes, reminds the listener of Chick Corea's style on the instrument in the 1969 Miles Davis band which included Holland.  The recording wraps up with a mellow number, "Breathe", featuring Craig Taborn on piano with Holland and Eubanks providing sympathetic support.  

A creative and thoroughly original double-bassist, composer, and bandleader, Dave Holland has been recording and performing for over five decades and has led bands since 1983. In various small unit and big-band configurations, Holland has toured internationally, entertaining audiences with bold, rich music. His performance with his quintet at the Iowa City Jazz Festival in 2009 was one of the finest nights of music this jazz fan has ever experienced.   In addition, Holland is an accomplished educator. He has taught master classes and workshops around the world and is President of the UK-based National Youth Jazz Collective. Holland is also visiting artist in residence since 2005 at the New England Conservatory, Boston where he held a full-time teaching position in 1987-88. 

Dave Holland was for many years a recording artist on the ECM label, as well as making appearances on dates on Columbia records and other labels as a sideman .  Since 2005 he has had his own imprint, Dare 2 Records. For more information on Dave Holland,  you may visit