Conference of the Birds (Dave Holland album)

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Conference of the Birds
Studio album by Dave Holland Quartet
Released 1973 (1973)
Recorded November 30, 1972
Studio Allegro Studio
New York City
Genre Avant-garde jazz
Length 39:38
Label ECM
Producer Manfred Eicher
Dave Holland Quartet chronology
Music from Two Basses
Conference of the Birds
Dave Holland / Sam Rivers

Conference of the Birds is a studio album by the Dave Holland Quartet, recorded in 1972 and released in 1973. It is jazz bassist Holland's second collaboration with composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton, as well as his second album on ECM Records. The liner notes describe how birds would congregate each morning outside Holland's London apartment and join with one another in song.[1]


Holland's compositions for the album had been performed at a New York City concert by a group including Randy Brecker on trumpet, Michael Brecker on tenor sax, Ralph Towner on guitar, Holland on bass, and Barry Altschul on percussion; "Braxton and Rivers, however, were chosen for the recording as better able to respond to the opportunist disjunctions offered within Holland's compositions."[2]

Each piece on the album is "open form," with a theme stated at the beginning to set key, tempo, and mood. The players are then free to improvise in whatever direction they choose. Stuart Nicholson writes: "Conference of the Birds emerged as a definitive statement of swinging free expression. It was, in essence, a return to the rugged discipline of early 1960s free improvising by working off melodic foundations using the 'time, no changes' principle to achieve greater control over that elusive quarry, freedom."[2]


The Penguin Guide to Jazz selected the album as part of its "Core Collection," and gave it a rating of four stars (of a possible four).[1] Jazz critic Michael G. Nastos called the album "[Holland]'s finest hour" and "definitive progressive music."[3] Steve Huey, writing for allmusic, calls Conference of the Birds "one of the all-time avant-garde jazz classics, incorporating a wide spectrum of '60s innovations.... This album is a basic requirement for any avant-garde jazz collection, and it's also one of the most varied and accessible introductions to the style one could hope for."[4] The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide said the album "only gets more impressive as time passes".[5]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
allmusic 5/5 stars[4]
All Music Guide to Jazz (favorable)[3]
The Penguin Guide to Jazz 4/4 stars
(Core Collection)[1]
Robert Christgau (A)[6]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide 5/5 stars[5]
Sputnikmusic 5/5[7]

Track listing[edit]

All compositions by Dave Holland.

  1. "Four Winds" – 6:32
  2. "Q & A" – 8:34
  3. "Conference of the Birds" – 4:34
  4. "Interception" – 8:20
  5. "Now Here (Nowhere)" – 4:34
  6. "See-Saw" – 6:40



  1. ^ a b c Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2006) [1992]. "Dave Holland". The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (8th ed.). New York: Penguin. p. 653. ISBN 0-14-102327-9. 
  2. ^ a b Harrison, Max (2000). The Essential Jazz Records, Volume 2: Modernism to Postmodernism. Eric Thacker, Stuart Nicholson (1st ed.). London: Mansell Publishing (A Cassell imprint). p. 889. ISBN 0-7201-1722-4. , p. 554.
  3. ^ a b Nastos, Michael G. (1994). Ron Wynn, ed. All Music Guide to Jazz. Allmusic. M. Erlewine, V. Bogdanov (1st ed.). San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books. p. 350. ISBN 0-87930-308-5. 
  4. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Conference of the Birds – Review". allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved August 31, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 105. ISBN 0-394-72643-X. 
  6. ^ Robert Christgau: Review in Consumer Guide (48): Sept. 12, 1974. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  7. ^ "Dave Holland: Conference of Birds". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 5 May 2018. 

External links[edit]