Bill Holman has been a West Coast sensation as a big band leader for over 50 years and he is still going strong at age 79. Among living West Coast band leaders only perhaps Gerald Wilson approaches Bill Holman. Bill’s choice of top notch West Coast talent such as Carl Saunders on trumpet, Bob Enevoldsen and Andy Martin on trombone, and Lanny Morgan and Bob Efford on reeds, shows the inspiration Bill has been to countless West Coasters.
This CD was recorded live at a four-day tribute to Maynard Ferguson in Sept. 2004, put on by Ken Poston as part of the LA Jazz Institutes yearly tributes. Holman’s big bands usually have a featured event at these festivals. West Coast jazz musicians line up to have the privilege to play Holman’s challenging charts. An added bonus for the 2004 festival was the fact that Bill and Maynard played together in a classic Kenton band back in the day.
Holman is always up to a challenge and here again he does not disappoint, even taking on The Beatles’ A Day in the Life; Charlie Parker’s Donna Lee, as well as one of my favorites, Frank Rosolino’s Blue Daniel. Holman’s composition Bary Me Not was written for veteran bari sax player, Bob Efford, is a must for fans of the big sax.
Parker’s Donna Lee provides a nice feature for one of the younger band members, pianist Christian Jacob, and Jacob does himself proud until the rest of the band takes charge and makes a run for it. The CD is closed by two Holman compositions, The BeBop Love Song taken leisurely until Holman decides to vary the pace, and the closer – the Cohn/Sims tribute, Zoot ‘N’ Al.
If you can’t be in Los Angeles to witness Bill live, we’d suggest that you purchase this CD to witness the power and creativity of Bill Holman. It’s classic West Coast Big Band, from one of the last of the Left Coast masters.
Tracks: (Introduction) Woodrow, A Day in the Life, Bary Me Not, (Band Introductions) Donna Lee, Blue Daniel, Press One, The BeBop Love Song, Zoot ‘N’ Al.
— Jeff Krow