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JAZZ NOTES

Dave Holland Keeps Mixing an Experimental Brew

August 26, 1994|ZAN STEWART | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Bass marvel Dave Holland, who has played with everyone from Miles Davis and Chick Corea to Joe Henderson and Herbie Hancock in his 26-year career, believes that the time is ripe for new directions in jazz.

"We have had a realignment with real traditional musical values that will provide a strong springboard for the next jump into original territory," Holland said from his home in Saugerties, N.Y.

The bassist has long been on the cutting edge. A gifted musician who never stops experimenting, Holland liberally mixes structureless playing, which he calls "open form," with more traditional jazz concepts, which he calls "closed form."

The brew, as heard on such albums as 1990's "Extensions" on ECM Records, is similar to the music played by such forward-thinking artists as John Scofield and Joe Lovano, and in many ways defines the direction jazz is heading.

Holland sees his mix of forms as part of a continuing musical evolution. "As I get older, I find I'm wanting to use all the various directions and languages that I like to play," Holland says. "I like to engage in group interaction, have a performance be a group dialogue that features soloists at different times, that integrates written material with improvising."

The laboratory within which Holland feels he can best conduct his experiments is the organized, regularly performing band.

"It's so important to maintain the ideal of a group," he says. "Groups have been the backbone of this music, and we musicians need to do everything we can to maintain them. They're opportunities for players to have an ongoing connection with other musicians, and to grow and mature."

To this end, Holland has a new quartet. Formed in January, it is composed of Steve Nelson (vibes), Eric Person (alto sax) and Gene Jackson (drums) and plays Tuesday through Sept. 4 at Catalina Bar & Grill.

Holland says the ensemble will explore his originals and works by such jazz giants as Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Thelonious Monk. Holland, the bassist with the fat, ringing sound and solo style that reveals a horn-like agility and melodiousness, says that his music stresses rhythm and melody.

"If the rhythm is strong enough--and you don't have to hit people over the head--people will feel it," he says.

* Dave Holland's quartet plays Tuesday through Sept. 4, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. at Catalina Bar & Grill, 1640 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. $12-$15. (213) 466-2210. *

Back From Berlin: Pianist Walter Norris, the former Southern California resident who now lives in Berlin, is in the midst of a three-month visit, playing with old cronies. Norris appeared Monday at Catalina with trumpeter, singer and comedian Jack Sheldon, with whom he made his first recording in the mid-'50s. And tonight and Saturday at Legends of Hollywood in Studio City, 11670 Ventura Blvd., (818) 760-6631, he reunites with bassist Putter Smith and drummer Larance Marable, the team that made his recent "Love Every Moment" CD for Concord Jazz Records.

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Jazz on Film: The premiere of Jean Bach's "A Great Day in Harlem" highlights "Bix to Bird: The First Annual Playboy Jazz Film Festival." The festival will be held Sept. 27-29 at Laemmle's Sunset 5 in Hollywood. A detailed schedule for the festival will appear in an upcoming column.

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Weekend Warriors: Bob Florence's Limited Edition, Ann Patterson's Maiden Voyage and Bobby Rodriguez' HMA Salsa Orchestra play Sunday, 12:30 p.m., in a benefit for Musicians' Foundation, which assists musicians and their families in need. The concert takes place at the Musicians Union auditorium in Hollywood, 817 N. Vine St., (213) 993-3106.

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