JT Track Premiere: Dave Holland’s “Q&A”

Inspired reinvention of "Conference of the Birds" cut also features Evan Parker, Craig Taborn and Ches Smith

Evan and Dave

Dave Holland (left) and Evan Parker in the studio (photo by Susan Archie)

On May 11, bassist and composer Dave Holland will release Uncharted Territories, a new album featuring his longtime friend and collaborator Evan Parker on saxophone, along with pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Ches Smith. The group is featured in varied combinations of duos and trios, in addition to the quartet tracks, and the project is being released in two-CD/three-LP formats through Holland’s Dare2 imprint. Contacted via e-mail while on tour, Holland reflected on his enduring relationship with Parker: “I’ve known Evan and played with him over the last 50 years, and we were both involved in the [Spontaneous Music Ensemble’s] 1968 recording Karyōbin. Throughout the years he’s crafted a very personal musical language and has a history of working with a diverse range of musicians in many different formats. He has tremendous focus when he plays.”

Here we offer JazzTimes readers a preview of Uncharted with the Holland composition “Q&A,” a quartet track on which Smith plays vibraphone instead of drums. Says Holland: “‘Q&A’ was written in 1971 and first performed by the group Circle with Anthony Braxton, Barry Altschul and Chick Corea. This was a very important project for me that explored many different approaches to open-form (free) improvisation, and the piece was recorded for my first [album] as a leader, [1973’s] Conference of the Birds. I wanted to create a creative link between the way we approached interpreting the composition then and how this new ensemble would play it.”

“I enjoy playing in many improvisational settings and looking at the music from different perspectives,” Holland replied when asked about the artistic rewards of free improvisation. “Open-form improvisation relies on a very intense and focused communication between the musicians to create cohesive structures spontaneously. The musicians I invited to take part in this project—Evan, Craig and Ches—are masters at doing that.”

 

Read Bill Milkowski’s profile of Dave Holland from the April 2010 issue of JazzTimes