Pathways (Dare2 Records)

Dave Holland Octet

Released March 23, 2010

Jazzwise Top 10 Releases of 2010

JazzTimes Top 10 Albums of 2010

Grammy Nominee for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album 2011




A master of tone and rhythm; bassist, composer, and band leader Dave Holland is now in his fifth decade as a performer. Though he got his big break from Miles Davis – with whom he played during the trumpet legend’s epochal Bitches Brew period, and collaborated with the biggest names in jazz – it is Holland’s own contributions as leader and composer that have established him as a jazz legend.

Holland’s modern ensembles, most notably the Dave Holland Quintet and the Dave Holland Big Band, are responsible for several of the era’s most memorable recordings: Not for Nothing, Extended Play: Live at Birdland, What Goes Around and Overtime. With Holland, the band or album may be new, but it’s always the same genius.

Pathways marks the recording debut of the Dave Holland Octet. The record is set for a March 23 release, and the players should be familiar to Holland and jazz fans alike giving the band a more flexible range of sounds.

“I had always loved the sound of the Duke Ellington small groups, often with a five horn front-line plus the rhythm section,” says Holland. “The combination of two brass and three saxes gives access to a wide range of textures and colors and allows a composer to evoke the sound of a big band or create the more intimate sound of a small group.” Holland returned to his favorite New York environment – the legendary Birdland – to record Pathways, capturing this incredible group of improvisers in full flight.

Track Listing:

1. Pathways (Dave Holland) 10:46

2. How’s Never? (Dave Holland) 13:03

3. Sea of Marmara (Chris Potter) 9:03

4. Ebb and Flow (Dave Holland) 10:48

5. Blue Jean (Dave Holland) 7:28

6. Wind Dance (Alex Sipiagin) 9:10

7. Shadow Dance (Dave Holland) 15:06


Antonio Hart: alto sax and flute

Chris Potter: tenor sax and soprano sax

Gary Smulyan: baritone sax

Alex “Sasha” Sipiagin: trumpet & flugelhorn

Robin Eubanks: trombone

Steve Nelson: vibraphone and Marimba

Dave Holland: bass

Nate Smith: drums

Recorded live January 7 – 11, 2009, at Birdland, New York City

Producer: Dave Holland

Assistante Producer: Louise Holland

Engineer: Paul Bagin

Mixing: James Farber

Mastering: Greg Calbi

Photography: Richard Conde

Art Direction: Susan Archie

Design: Niklaus Troxler


It was just two years ago that revered Wolverhampton-born bassist Dave Holland scooped top honours in the 2008 Jazzwise Albums Of The Year New Releases poll coming out on top with his supercharged sextet offering Pass It On. So it’s testimony to his continuing resourcefulness and strengths as both bandleader and composer that his latest album Pathways was particularly popular among the Jazzwise writers this year. The album is another inspired team effort, the Octet boasting a bristling line up of strong individual talents – like the pre-eminent tenorist Chris Potter and young gun altoist/flautist Antonio Hart – all working as one well-oiled unit, fuelled by Holland’s sinewy bass lines and kicked along by new drumming recruit Nate Smith. If anything it’s a summation of Holland’s highly kinetic style of hooking boundless and buoyant grooves to some beautifully constructed and arranged melodies, all delivered with passion and precision.

Jazzwise writer Duncan Heining paid testimony to all these qualities in his review in the May issue of the magazine, stating: “This is as fine an album as Dave Holland has ever made. In a way, it is hard to see how it could have been otherwise. If you were a Michelin three-star chef, these are just the kind of ingredients you would source. A crack team of sous chefs, a rich palette of tastes and flavours, a hint of the exotic and just the right set of textures. It has to sound and feel right, elegant to the ear and refined to the touch. Holland has known many of these players for years. But it’s not just familiarity, more a shared sense of mission and desire to delight. In Holland’s hands, this octet has the fire and range of a big band and by the time these tracks were put down at New York’s Birdland, these guys were smoking.”

Recording this band live also brought another dimension to the music as Holland himself adds: “If they really capture the energy and freedom that the players have when playing live, it can result in some very special recordings. Now we own some fairly mobile recording equipment, we’re getting some excellent results. We use our own mikes for recording and that’s how we did it at Birdland. We’d been there for 4 or 5 nights, so by the time the weekend came around, the band was in full flight. In fact, most of the takes were from the weekend.”

It’s been a good year for bassist-bandleaders as other entries in the Jazzwise end of year Top 10 prove, but Holland’s presence once again also confirms he’s not just the leading double bassist of his generation, but one of jazz’s true master musicians as well.

Mike Flynn (Jazzwise)