Friday, February 27, 2015


Dave Holland.  A master bassist, composer, producer, bandleader and sideman.   Has worked with the likes of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Anthony Braxton and Kenny Wheeler to name a few jazz greats.   He has led and recorded projects ranging from solo bass to a big band format.   His compositional output as a bass player is second to none other than Charles Mingus.

For a weeklong engagement from February 23-26, Dave Holland came to Toronto to be the first “artist in residence” at York University’s prestigious music program.   There he conducted master classes and workshops to students studying in the program.   Culminating a weeklong of intensive study with the master, the students and the public were treated to a dream jam session where Dave Holland jammed with various members of the faculty at the storied music program at York University.

The first band, consisting of Holland, drummer Barry Elmes, pianist Mark Eisenman, guitarist Lorne Lofsky and saxophonist Sundar Viswanathan, went through lush readings of “Stella By Starlight” and “What Is This Thing Called Love”.   The former was led by Viswanathan’s liberal taking of the melody into newer heights and the band locked into a free flowing groove, with easily swung solos by all in the band, ranging from locked in simplicity by Eisenman into the hard driving range by guitarist Lorne Lofsky.   On the latter, it was set up by a funky Latin groove before breaking into break-neck swing by all in the band, building up intensity and fire as the solos carried on.  

The band was changed up at the third song to add trombonist Jamie Stager and guitarist Robb Cappeletto to do another brisk reading of Cole Porter’s “I Love You”.   Stager’s trombone reading provided a cool, laid back tone to the reading of the tune, and Cappelletto added a youthful spark and fire to the reading of the tune.   For the fourth tune, Duke Ellington’s “Caravan”, cellist Matt Brubeck and drummer Anthony Michelli joined in the fun by fusing in classical, modern improvisation, Middle Eastern and Latin influences into their solos and rhythmic treatment of the tune.  

To close off a wonderful afternoon of jamming and improvisation, the crowd was treated to a “double bass” performance by a duet consisting of faculty member Jim Vivian and Dave Holland himself.    In their treatment of Duke Ellington’s “Take The Coltrane”, they really have fun with the blues head by engendering interplay, conversation, call and response, rhythm and swing by the act of having just two basses playing together.   Jim Vivian has a pretty solid foundation and tone with his treatment of the bass, complimenting well with the surprises and flights of fancy master Dave Holland has up in his sleeve.  

Dave Holland in this faculty jam showed that in music, it is all about having fun and being like-minded in your goals and approach to music.    There was no grandstanding or ego in the faculty jam.   I found it was a splendid and a joyous affair of celebrating the joys of music to a young audience and inspiring up and coming musicians to be the best that they can be. 



(Friend Donovan, Dave Holland, and Me)

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