February 2005

Humber Music Presents Dave Holland with
The Contemporary Jazz Ensemble
Directed by Ted Quinlan
The Humber Studio Jazz Ensemble
Directed by Denny Christianson
February 2, 2005Humber AuditoriumToronto

Dave Holland, known to many as the world’s greatest jazz bass-player, led two ensembles through a concert of his own charts last night at Humber College, known to M.C. Ross Porter as Humber Jazz Stars Finishing School.

The theme of the evening was that these student players are not just starting out, but that, as far as their accomplishment is concerned, they have arrived. The first tune, appropriately, was “Homecoming”, from Holland’s 1995 album Gateway. Although you couldn’t help recognizing Holland’s enormous warm tone, beautifully contoured lyrical lines and perfect intonation, the highlight of this evening’s performance was the guitar work, originally done by John Abercrombie, here carried off with great aplomb and cool by Tristan Clark. Shane Landry did nice work on tenor sax. You also couldn’t help noticing how much Holland beamed with pleasure at the solid performances his students were giving.

Tristan Clark
The first set had Mr. Holland working with the seven players of Ted Quinlan’s Contemporary Jazz Ensemble, including vocalist Robyn Pauhl, who did a lovely singing job on “Equality” (lyrics by Maya Angelou), although she seemed shy and a bit stiff. Darryl Orr was notable for his soft, sensitive work on alto sax. Will Loach on trumpet upheld his chair throughout the set, and Christian Overton got the audience smiling with his trombone solo on “Dream of the Elders”. On that same tune, Holland enjoyed a duet passage with vibist David Atkinson. The last tune of the set, “The Balance”, from his ’97 Quintet’s recording Points of View, showcased the master’s complex phrasing and his smooth flow from one phrase to the next. Jeffrey Halischuk gave him excellent support on the drums and Tristan Clark ripped off another fine solo.
The second set had Mr. Holland leading the 20-piece Humber Studio Jazz Ensemble (Directed by Denny Christianson), through charts from his Big Band album of 2002. He introduced the set by referring with feeling to the theme of educating players to carry on the legacy of musicians who came before, reminding us that jazz is not just entertainment but a living part of our culture for which many people feel responsible.

Dave Holland & The Humber Studio Jazz Ensemble
Generally, the reed section, worked beautifully with several outstanding, hot, performances by Fraser Calhoun, and La-Nai Gabriel’s mellow tenor on “First Snow”. The heartbreakingly beautiful “Blues for C.M." (Charles Mingus) got a good solo by lead trumpet Peter Kim, and animated Tom Juhas on guitar. "Upswing” got a crowd-pleasing solo out of baritone sax player Phil Skladowski.

Phil Skladowski

The final number, “Shadow Dance” showed why Dave Holland is called the greatest. During the solo introduction his bass developed an uncanny singing voice, and you could just about hear the lyrics in it. The fingers of his right hand come down on the strings with such precision, especially when he does eighth note runs, it’s like watching hammers strike the strings of a piano. Along with precision and expression come speed and his legendary sense of timing that includes long, vibrant slides, and spaces in unusual places.

Modest to a fault, after he was thanked by Humber’s Director of Music, Denny Christianson for being a master of the art of learning, and for making better teachers of the faculty during his three-day workshop, Dave Holland touched his heart and said, “What goes around, comes around”. From the aura of pleasure glowing around him, you knew he was speaking the truth.

We welcome your comments and feedback
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Report by Stanley Fefferman
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Photographs by Roger Humbert

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