Saturday, September 19, 2009

Some Scorching Ron Holloway saxophone from 1996

Here is a review from the October 1996 Jazz & Blues Report of one of the four Milestone albums by tenor saxophonist Ron Holloway. Ron, as I write this, currently tours with Susan Tedeschi, but when home with DC is liable to play with anybody, bring his robust playing to whatever setting he is then situated in. This, and his other Milestone albums can be purchased through various sellers at amazon, although amazon does not carry it, itself.

Ron Holloway’s tenor saxophone has been heard at numerous blues shows around the Washington, D.C. area over the years, including accompanying boogie woogie legend, Sammy Price, and Cathy Ponton King at past D.C. Blues Festivals. He is amongst the area’s most accomplished jazz musicians, although completely at home with the blues, and was a member of Dizzy Gillespie’s last band, He also has played with Root Boy Slim and Gil Scott-Heron (with whom he still tours). Milestone has just issued Scorcher, Holloway’s third album, and this disc lives up to its title. Just like Holloway who transcends musical genres, Scorcher includes a diversity of settings from an organ based combo with guest Joey DeFrancesco, a couple of vocals by Gil Scott-Heron, and even a rap track where Holloway’s tenor sax swirls around the raps of M.C. RIP and Shorty Bones. Trumpeter Chris Battistone and guitarist Paul Bollenback (from the organist’s trio) also play an important part on this album. Material ranges from burning renditions of bebop standards like Hot House as well as Lee Morgan’s Slidewinder, Freddie Hubbard’s Red Clay, a hot Sonny Rollins number, The Everywhere Calypso, and a couple of numbers with Gil Scott-Heron, one of which is a blues on which Nighthawk Mark Wenner plays. Holloway’s tenor sound is somewhat suggestive of Rollins (which is certainly not the worst source of inspiration) and his lengthy solos show his own musical personality, full of passion and thoughtfulness. He is supported by some terrific players as well, and the result is some compelling music. The last track is a rap with a positive message, on which Holloway’s fiery saxophone does not completely integrate with the backing or the performance. While to this listener, this experiment was not successful, it reflects Holloway’s ranging musical interests. In any event, it is a minor flaw in a set with almost 75 minutes of music, played with plenty of heart and head.

Subsequent to posting this, Ron alerted me to the fact that his Milestone albums can be downloaded from Concord Records website as MP3s.

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