featuring the acoustic bass giants Ray Brown and Leroy Vinnegar.
‘I was trying to get the tone I heard those guys play with,‘ he recalls, ‘trying to get my time right, playing the lines. I was playing by ear, mainly from a melodic point ofview, and wasn‘t really thinking very theoretically, which is unfashionable these days, but while theory is important, ear training shouldn‘t be left out. Learning the sound of the music first is maybe the longer route, but I think it is the more complete one.
‘When I joined Miles at that time, the music he was playing was in a very electric context, and I started to feel a little frustrated with the acoustic bass, because I couldn‘t get enough weight of sound. I remember I offered to play electric bass — I don‘t remember Miles ever telling me to. I was happy to do it, but I must say I had some reservations, and when I found myself playing more and more electric, I started to
question whether I should stay in the
When he did leave, though, it was not only to return to acoustic bass (and occasional cello), but also in order to work out some of the new musical ideas which had been bubbling under in his formally well-defined work with Miles. Holland had been introduced to the idea of a more open way of playing by saxophonist John Surman (who plays in Scotland later this month), and was able to explore that direction in the quartet Circle, with
Dave Holland Ouartat: Coleman, Holland, Smlth and Eubanlu
Chick Corea, Anthony Braxton and Barry Altschul.
Although Circle only lasted for eighteen months, they produced a classic album, Paris Concert, for the ECM label. Holland’s relationship with Manfred Eicher‘s ground-breaking concern has continued ever since, and he has issued a series of albums as the leader of consistently innovative and exciting groups (and a couple of solo sets, one on cello), beginning with Conference of the Birds in 1973, as well as guesting on numerous sessions for other musicians.
‘I wanted to have a band because I felt the need to do it, particularly after my illness (Holland recovered from a potentially fatal bout of endocarditis in 1981). I have always been attracted to the jazz group context. I admire how the soloist works with the rhythm section, how the bass player interacts with the drummer. To me, the music is group music, and I want any group I put together to function on that level, where everybody feels they have a place, and can stretch their imaginations and their creative aspirations as far as they are able.‘
Previous Holland bands have included the likes of Sam Rivers, Kenny Wheeler, and Julian Priester (as well as the celebrated Gateway trio with John Abercrombie and Jack DeJohnette), but his current quartet with three musicians associated with the informal M-Base group in Brooklyn, saxophonist Steve Coleman, guitarist Kevin
Eubanks, and drummer Marvin ‘Smitty’ Smith, which he brings to Edinburgh, is the equal of any of them, and can — at the very least — stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any current jazz outfit.
‘My thing is to create a setting, and that is something I learned from Miles. During the time I played with him, he would create the environment for the music, then let the musicians deal with it. That’s what I have tried to do, but the process works both ways. The
musicians in this band have some extraordinary new ideas in rhythm,
j and I have had to develop new skills
in order to play the music.
i ‘Some of the tunes have a very I unusual rhythmic structure, for
example, and you have to learn to rephrase in order to deal with it. When you are playing in an unconventional time structure, you have to learn to build your phrases around these new structures, you can‘t just go into your bag and play your normal thing.’
As their magnificent Extensions (ECM) convincingly demonstrates, Holland clearly thrives on precisely that kind ofchallenge. His willingness to keep on learning, rather than to sit back on his reputation and do what comes easily, has ensured that his music has remained among the most vital and consistently satisfying sounds in contemporary jazz.
The Dave Holland Quartet play at the Queen ’s Hall in Edinburgh on 5 j May.
The original Mamas And Papas Dust off your kaftan. restring your love beads and raid the neighbours‘ herbaceous border. The Mamas and Papas are back. Along with Procol Harum. their name is synonymous with 1967's Summer Of Love. Hits like ‘California Dreaming' and ‘Monday Monday' captured perfectly the innocent idealism of a generation discovering free love and free expression. Main songwriter, formed the band with his then-wife Michelle, Denny Doherty and (Mama) Cass Elliot in Greenwich Village in the mid-605. By 1967, the band were proud possessors of two gold albums, a string ofhit singles and even a Grammy award, but, a year later, emotionally and physically drained, they went their separate ways.
John Phillips went on to record solo material, write ﬁlm soundtracks (including The Man Who Fell To Earth) and write the Warhol-produced and Paul Morrissey-directed Broadway musical Man On The Moon. At the end of the 705, he teamed up with The Rolling Stones to record The Mystery Album, but his drug addiction led to arguments with J agger that ensured the album stayed shelved. With a cleaned-up John Phillips, the stage was set for reforming The Mamas And Papas, but Phillips‘ daughter McKenzie has taken the place of the late Mama Cass, who died in 1974. The line-up was completed with the addition of Spanky McFarlane and Scott McKenzie, the man responsible for the hippy anthem ‘San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)‘. According to John Phillips, things are sounding spookin good:
‘When the harmonies really start to work, we get a special tone like a fifth voice. We‘ve nicknamed it Harvey. ‘(James Haliburton) f The Mamas A nd Papas play the Queen '3 Hall. Edinburgh on Tues 14
The List3-16May 199155