Fraser Hollins

Fraser Hollins has been praised as "one of Canada's great bassists." Don Thompson - Canadian Jazz Multi-Instrumentalist. A priority in his artistic growth has been to develop versatility in many styles and idioms because of his sincere love for many musical cultures and genres. This has proven an invaluable quality for him as he has led an enriching musical life for the past 15 years in Montreal, and, for a few years, in New York City. His playing demonstrates "highly imaginative and creative spontaneous music making." Craig Hurst - Jazz Fraser is an in-demand sideman, and his contribution as a rhythm section player is valued for the "strong foundation" he gives the music while at the same time providing "much more than the requisite maintenance of the beat." Joanne Villeneuve - The Brandon Sun.   

He has performed around the world and appeared on over 30 recordings with bands featuring national and international artists. This list of musicians includes Steve Amirault, Jeff Johnston, Joel Miller, Jean-Christophe Béney, Christine Jensen, Rémi Bolduc, Josh Rager, Dave Turner, Don Thompson, Kelly Jefferson, Guido Basso, Kevin Hays, Ingrid Jensen, Brad Turner, Geoffrey Keezer, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ben Monder, Dave Liebman, Max Wild, Amanda Monaco, Donny McCaslin, Jon Cowherd, Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzone and Seamus Blake.

Music has taken Fraser to Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. These travels have been important to him as a performer and educator. The sharing of his musical knowledge is of vital importance to him, and he has participated in clinics across Canada, and internationally in England, Peru, Haiti and the United States. Since 2006, Fraser has been on staff at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montreal, where he teaches bass privately and instructs ensembles.

Fraser's own musical education began at a young age. A native of Ottawa, Canada where he was born in 1970, he started playing violin and piano when he was seven years old. In high school, he picked up the bass guitar and performed in rock and jazz-fusion groups. In 1989 he made the switch to acoustic bass, after hearing the classic Miles Davis record "Kind of Blue". He began his post-secondary musical studies at Ottawa University (1990), and went on to hone his craft in Montreal at Concordia University (1991-1994).

In the early summer of 1999, Fraser participated in the Banff International Jazz Workshop. This was a life changing experience for him, not only because of the opportunity to learn from and play with the incredible faculty, which included Kenny Werner, Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano and Dave Holland; it was also a fantastic place to meet musicians from all over the world, because of the program's international reputation. In particular, Fraser was marked by the energy and intensity of the musicians he encountered from the New York City area, and this fuelled a strong desire in him to spend some time there.

In November 1999, he moved to New York for 6 months to study with Gary Peacock and Marc Johnson thanks to a grant awarded him by the Canada Council. During this time, he would spend many of his days getting together with musicians all over the city, and the importance of original compositions during these sessions made a profound impact on him. He had written music since he was a teenager playing in rock bands, and he now felt a strong urge to delve more deeply into this universe. So, in the fall of 2000 he began developing his composition skills under the tutelage of Jim McNeely with the financial aid of the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec.

Still hungry to keep studying intensely, and wanting to spend more time in New York, Fraser began his Masters degree at the Manhattan School of Music in the fall of 2001, where he had the opportunity to study with Jay Anderson, Garry Dial, Dick Oatts, Mike Abene, Ludmila Ulehla and Dave Liebman. He profited from numerous playing opportunities at the school and in the jazz clubs around New York, and would occasionally tour in the US, Canada and Europe. He also wrote prolifically for a variety of ensembles, including small groups, big band, chamber ensembles and string quartet. He eventually plans to draw from these writing experiences to produce a program of original music featuring a large ensemble. His voice as a composer has been recognised by his peers, and Fraser had his composition "Halfway Home" recorded by Christine Jensen on her CD A Shorter Distance, and "Cornered Coach" on Josh Rager's Time and Again.

After graduating with his Masters Degree, Fraser stayed in New York until the fall of 2005, when he relocated back to Montreal. Since his return, he has written a book of original music for his quartet, and has started performing around town with this group. His band features Joel Miller on saxophones, Steve Amirault on piano, and Karl Jannuska or Martin Auguste on drums. He continues to perform and record regularly with some of Canada's finest jazz bands. These include Joel Miller's "Mandala", the Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra, the Rémi Bolduc Jazz Ensemble, and the Jean-Christophe Béney Quartet. He enjoys a fulfilling teaching career at McGill University where he gives improvisation classes, private lessons and instructs ensembles. He recently released his first CD, entitled Aerial, which features a collection of music that is largely influenced by his travels to South America, and his love of Nature.

Sign up to our newsletter!



Click here to join!


Event calendar