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Dave Holland: Consummate Bassist

Lazaro Vega By

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So the experiences all feed each other. Obviously the thing I'm doing with my group is a focus on the things that I'm really trying to develop in my playing and in the composing and things like that. All the other things that I'm fortunate enough to do, the ones that interest me with good music and good players just feed the creative juices. That stops you from getting too narrow and too introspective also. It allows you to go outside your own world. Also, it's very nice not to be the bandleader sometimes and have somebody else make decisions.

LV: In terms of your composition, it seems like there's very multi-linear music where you have the ability to pair off in different groups and it's not always just the quintet then solo and then the quintet then solo. There are different things happening. Would you elaborate on what areas of composition you're working on in this band?

DH: I think in a broad way we're trying to combine the elements of improvisation and composition in a way that makes for interesting transitions between one and the other and combines both. In a more detailed way I think we're looking at different possibilities of how certain forms influence the improvising. Having a structure of this kind or that kind. Structures that are not symmetric or chord movements that create certain illusions. I don't know. Just developing a language that has interest for myself and the players with us. And they're all doing the same thing. They' re all excellent composers also and we've been fortunate to have compositions contributed by the individual members of the group, too, as "Metamorphos" is Robin Eubanks' tune.

LV: Oh is it? I wasn't aware of that. I just dug it.

DH: Yes. Well so you should. It's an excellent piece. That's precisely my point: everybody brings his own take on what the band can do. The composer, they get an idea for a setting for the band to function in, to improvise in. Each person brings a different point of view, so to speak.

LV: On a more philosophical level, with the telecommunications revolution the people of the world are getting more and more in contact with each other. People of diverse religions, languages and culture are more in contact. That can cause problems or it can cause great things to happen. It seems to me that most of the time the Artists are finding the great things that can happen. Artists seem to promote a more harmonious thing because they speak the same language. Do you know what I mean?

DH: Yes, whatever the art form is transcends the language barrier, because of the symbolism and so on.

LV: Do you think about that?

DH: Well of course. And I've been lucky to be in a generation where travel is relatively quick. I won't say it's easy or comfortable. But you can cover large distances quite quickly, and it's meant we've had the opportunities to tour in ways that weren't possible 40 years ago.

One sees the same emotions in the audience no matter where you go so you realize quite quickly underneath our basic cultural differences and reference points that there's an essence of humanity that resonates everywhere.

In its best form we'll keep the individuality to some extent. I think identity is important for people, and identification with their past and their ancestors as well as identification with the future is important for continuity. So I think that we're going to have a realization of that. I don 't think it's going to be just sort of a homogenous whole, at least not for a long time. Maybe that will come and hopefully we will maintain the best of all the various cultures, sensitivities and sensibilities and we'll have a wonderful world race of people. I don't know if that will happen in the near future, but I suppose that is where it would go ultimately.

LV: We could be in the early infancy of something like that.

DH: Well communication is the first step, isn't it? That's why the artists are, as you say, important. But it's also now we have so much access to communication.

I see in India, for instance, there's a man who's donating cell phones to all the villages in India. Every Indian village is going to have one cell phone, and it's being given to a woman. So that village now can be connected to the world. Whereas you can't lay landlines and do all the things that they used to have to do, now a cell phone works anywhere.

So this puts it in the hands of people who didn't have it before, that kind of contact with the outside world and an end to isolation, in a sense. It has a good and a bad side to it. I think we have to move into the future carefully. But in the end you have to embrace the changes that are happening and try to make them work in the best way you can to the benefit of people.
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