Dave Holland 2003
as well as with such older musicians as Stan Getz, Thelonious Monk, and singer Betty Carter. In 1972 he recorded his first album as a leader, the magnificent Conference of the Birds, which featured the multiple reed instruments of both Braxton and Rivers. To this day it remains one of my favorite records of the period.
Throughout these years he continued to develop his ringing sound and prodigious finger technique, but although Holland took part in various cooperative groups, it was only in the 1980s that he began to concentrate on leading his own bands. Since then he has led a number of small units, of which his latest quintet is surely the finest. The group currently includes saxophonist Chris Potter, trombonist Robin Eubanks, vibraphone player Steve Nelson, and drummer Billy Kilson. The unique blend of instruments, the original compositions, and the imaginative arrangements designed to exploit the specific sounds of each participant, as well as the intricate and varied rhythmic aspects of the music, have all contributed to the success of this quintet. As good as the four other members of the band are, the leader's powerful bass playing provides the special flavoring. Holland is a swift and precise player with a very personal tone, strong and clear, and an uncluttered sense of melody in his soloing.