is a bassist, composer, bandleader whose passion for musical expression of all styles, and dedication to creating consistently innovative music ensembles have propelled a professional career of more than 50 years, and earned him top honors in his field including multiple Grammy awards.
Holland stands as a guiding light on acoustic and electric bass, having grown up in an age when musical genres—jazz, rock, funk, avant-garde, folk, electronic music, and others—blended freely together to create new musical pathways. He was a leading member of a generation that helped usher jazz bass playing from its swing and post-bop legacy to the vibrancy and multidiscipline excitement of the modern era, extending the instrument’s melodic, expressive capabilities. Holland’s virtuosic technique and rhythmic feel, informed by an open-eared respect of a formidable spread of styles and sounds, is widely revered and remains much in demand. To date, His playing can be heard on hundreds of recordings, with more than thirty as a leader under his own name.
As a leader and collaborator, Holland continues to tour the world and it comes as no surprise that he has and still serves the music in an educational role, having worked during the 1980s as artistic director of the Banff Centre’s jazz summer program (Canada), and as a faculty member for two years at the New England Conservatory of Music in the ‘90s, where he still serves as an artist in residence (as he does at the Royal Academy of Music.) He has also been elected a Fellow of the Guildhall School—his alma mater—and has received honorary doctorates from Birmingham Conservatoire (UK), Berklee College of Music, and the New England Conservatory.
Most recently, Holland was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music (UK)—a rare honor as membership is limited to 300 living musicians—and he’s been named a 2017 Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Over the years and through countless musical experiences, Holland has come to define his purpose as a musician—and he articulates it well: “I’m trying to create music that exists on multiple levels, such as simpler elements along with more complex elements. To me, a lot of great art, whether it’s visual, musical or written, has an ability to do those things—to offer some fundamental truths that echo in people, yet at the same time, introduce them to a new way of looking at those fundamentals that gives them a little different perspective…