Dave Holland: A Weekend of Bass
AAJ: Before I let you go I have to ask you about playing with one of my favorite pianists, Herbie Hancock.
DH: One of my favorites too. Herbie has been a great inspiration to me in recent years. We really didn't play very much before 1990. He was in Miles' band for the first month I was in the group, so we played briefly then and we knew each other casually. But in 1990 we did a tour with Jack DeJohnette and Pat Metheny called Parallel Realities. We did a world tour with that group. And following that Herbie and I found we had a nice musical relationship and a nice friendship and we ended up working together. I worked in his trio and did some recording with them. We did the New Standards recording. And then later on we worked as a quartet.
And Herbie is a real improviser. Every night he comes to the gig ready to do something new, and approaches it that way. And that's a great challenge. It really made me think about what improvisation is and how to keep that kind of spontaneity in your playing, which of course is harder as time goes by. To keep putting yourself on the spot, throwing yourself out into what you might say is the void and trying to find something new out there. And Herbie really can do that. And he has a wonderful energy, a positive energy onstage and in his life and is a great communicator in the music. There's a lot of back and forth sort of trading of musical ideas and building on what you hear each other play and so on. It's a wonderful experience and I had a great time playing with him.
AAJ: Is there anything else you'd like to say?
DH: I could mention a couple of new projects I have got going. One is a 13-piece band that we did in Montreal, premiered there as part of that invitational series. And we recorded it in January. That will be out probably early next year. And we just toured in Europe with an octet. And within these groups the quintet is still there but we've expanded it. The octet is the quintet with three other musicians: Antonio Hart on alto and flute, Gary Smulyan on baritone, and Kenny Wheeler on trumpet and flugelhorn.
AAJ: Is that new for you to be writing big band-type arrangements?
DH: I think the first ones I did were around '87. What I'm doing now is developing the project as an idea to record it, which we've done, and also to take it out on tour and do some work with it. So that's a difference.
AAJ: Do you enjoy the coloration, the possibilities that a larger group enables?
DH: Well, that's what I'm enjoying about writing for the group. It's presenting me with a new set of challenges. For me that's a welcome thing. It's given me a new horizon, you might say, to work towards. There's a lot for me to learn about that. And I'm happy with what we've done so far. But I feel like there's a tremendous amount of possibilities for me to develop within that context. So I do intend to continue on. Yeah, I do enjoy it. It's a tremendous amount of work. I'm not a musician who can just sit down and do an arrangement for a big band in an afternoon. It takes me a while to do it. But it's very satisfying once it's done. But it's very time intensive.