DAVE HOLLAND was born in Wolverhampton, England, in 1946. He was drawn to music at an early age, starting with the ukulele at age 4, moving to the guitar at 10, and then to the bass guitar at 13. Other than a brief period of piano lessons, in these years he was largely self-taught, learning the popular music of the day from song books and the radio. When he was 15 he was working enough as a musician that he decided to try earning a living at it.
In a search to expand his ideas on the bass guitar, he began listening to jazz. The recordings of Ray Brown and Leroy Vinnegar had a profound effect on Holland, and he quickly got a double bass and began sitting in with the local jazz players.
In 1963 Holland moved to London, where he began studying with James E. Merritt, who was then the principal bassist of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In the spring of 1964 Holland was admitted to the Guildhall School with a full scholarship.
By the time he was 21, Holland was appearing frequently with such jazz greats as John McLaughlin, Kenny Wheeler, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, and Joe Henderson. In 1968 he was heard by Miles Davis, who asked Holland to join his band. Holland moved to New York and for the next two years toured and appeared on a number of recordings with Davis, including In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew.
In the three decades that have followed, Dave Holland has emerged as one of the great figures of contemporary jazz, playing in combos and big bands with other heavyweights such as Chick Corea, Anthony Braxton, Stan Getz, Thelonious Monk, Sam Rivers, John Abercrombie, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Zawinul, Marvin "Smitty" Smith, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, and Roy Haynes. During 1996 alone, Holland performed on three Grammy-nominated albums: Michael Brecker's Tales from the Hudson, Herbie Hancock's The New Standard, and Billy Childs' The Child Within.
Holland has served as the artistic director of the summer jazz workshop at the Banff School in Banff, Canada, and as a full-time faculty member at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.