Bass master Dave Holland made a rare appearance in the Houses of Parliament last night, Wednesday 21 January, when he played as special guest with the National Youth Jazz Collective at the Youth Jazz concert: an annual event organised by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group in the House of Commons’ Attlee Suite, situated in Portcullis House.
British born but New York-based since he moved to America to join Miles Davis in 1968 after Davis had spotted him playing at Ronnie Scott’s Club, Holland has built a formidable career as a much-in-demand bassist and bandleader with over 20 solo albums, starting with Conference Of The Birds on ECM in 1972, over 19 albums as co-leader and dozens of dates as featured bassist on albums by Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Kenny Wheeler and Anthony Braxton among many others. Holland had been in London for the past week as International Artist in Residence for the Royal Academy of Music’s jazz course: a long standing relationship and commitment to helping up and coming musicians, which this year included a Masterclass and a special performance of his ‘Monterey Suite’ with the Royal Academy Big Band.
Run by artistic director Issie Barratt, the National Youth Jazz Collective is made up of young musicians who are about to or have just started jazz courses at conservatoires across the UK. The standard of musicianship is already praiseworthy and featured in the large ensemble at Portcullis House were trumpeters Alex Ridout and Jake Labazzi; alto saxophonists Alexander Bone and Tom Smith; tenor saxophonist Ash Parkinson; guitarist Nick Fitch; pianist Stephanie Wills; bassist Daisy George; drummer Adam Woodcock; vocalist Ella Hohnen and Jessica Mistry on Indian flute.
Following an opening set by the NYJC, Dave Holland took over on double bass as the ensemble tore into a brisk, often latin flavoured set with captivating arrangements and a lively confidence that belied their junior years. Among the highlights were Asha Parkinson’s anti-war ‘Battles’ and Stephanie Wills’ ‘July’, which provided a surge of summer heat on a freezing winter night. The performance wrapped with a scorching blow through Horace Silver’s ‘Nica’s Dream’ with Holland’s assured melodic depth anchoring and driving the youthful exuberance, particularly a whiplash alto solo from Alexander Bone – a name already recognised by the BBC as the 2014 Young Jazz Musician of the Year. Judging by some of last night’s impressive performances, he won’t be the only one.
– Jon Newey
– Photo by Hayley Madden featuring Dave Holland and the National Youth Jazz Collective together with NYJC director Issie Barratt, Michael Connarty MP, Jazz FM's Helen Mayhew and Jonathan Morrish and Keith Harris of sponsors PPL