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Bass maestro Dave Holland holds residency at SFJAZZ Center

One of the most important musicians to emerge from the British jazz scene during the 1960s, legendary bassist Dave Holland comes to the SFJAZZ Center for four nights of music starting Thursday.

A precocious child who gravitated towards music and was playing ukulele by the age of four, as a teen Holland became enamored with jazz and stand-up bass, trading in his bass guitar for an acoustic bass so he could pursue his new obsession. He would move to London, studying first with classical bassist James Merrett before enrolling at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Holland mixed his academic studies with onstage training at the renowned Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, providing support for such notable touring musicians as saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Joe Henderson. In 1968, he stepped onto the global stage at the tender age of 22 when he replaced Ron Carter in the Miles Davis' famed "second great quintet" that included pianist Herbie Hancock (who was soon replaced by Chick Corea), drummer Tony Williams, and saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

Miles Davis - Miles Runs the Voodoo Down - 8/18/1970 - Tanglewood (Official) by Blues Rock on MV on YouTube

Along with guitar phenomenon and fellow Brit John McLaughlin -- who Holland had played with extensively in London -- the bassist would make important contributions to the trumpet player's pioneering excursions into electric jazz. In addition to playing on such landmark albums as In a Silent WayBitches Brew, and Live Evil, Holland held down the bottom end in Davis' live group for two years until his departure in 1970.  

Though he often wielded a plugged-in Fender bass guitar during the later stretch of his time with Miles, Holland has spent most of the nearly five decades since playing acoustic stand-up. Whether working with luminaries like Stan Getz and Davis alumnus Chick Corea or pushing the boundaries of jazz alongside avant-garde saxophone mavericks Anthony Braxton and Sam Rivers, Holland established himself as brilliant composer and one of the modern masters of his instrument.

Jazzfest Berlin 1990 - (III) - Pat Metheny Trio - Dave Holland (b) - Roy Haynes (dr) deel 2.avi by jazzoldvideo on YouTube

Since the 1980s, he has split his time between leading his own acclaimed groups and teaming with an array of jazz giants (Hancock, guitarist Pat Metheny, the late tenor great Joe Henderson) for tours and album projects. Possessing an ear for talent near the same level as his mentor Davis, Holland's bands have served as a proving ground for a new generation of talent like influential alto player Steve Coleman, drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith, vibraphonist Steve Nelson and keyboard player Craig Taborn.

Holland has been a regular attraction at the SFJAZZ Center, anchoring a similar four-night run of performances in 2013 that featured the Bay Area debut of his more recent electric band Prism, with Taborn, guitarist Kevin Eubanks (a collaborator from Holland's blazing late '80s/early '90s quartet) and volcanic drummer Eric Harland in addition to more recent appearances with piano great Kenny Baron,  tabla master Zakir Hussain and celebrated tenor saxophonist Chris Potter.

Crosscurrents SF Jazz 2015 by Rebecca Hathorn on YouTube

For this four-night residency at the SFJAZZ Center's Miner Auditorium, Holland will start things off Thursday night with a duo performance featuring celebrated Vancouver-born pianist Kris Davis, who has established herself as a keyboard phenom over the past two decades. Davis is also part of Holland's latest ensemble, his New Quartet that makes its West Coast debut Friday evening. The quartet also includes alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw and drummer Nasheet Waits. On Saturday, Holland takes the stage with a potent trio featuring Beninese guitar player and Herbie Hancock collaborator Lionel Loueke (filling in for Eubanks) and powerhouse drummer Harland. The bass maestro closes things out on Sunday with a sold-out return performance by his Crosscurrents Trio featuring saxophonist Potter and tabla virtuoso Hussain.

Dave Holland Residency
Thursday-Sunday, May 23-26, times and prices vary
SFJAZZ Center's Miner Auditorium

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