BILL HOLMAN – The Original Bill Holman Big Band

Phono 870238 (Two CD Set)

Bill Holman (arr / cond /tnr ) on all tracks
Collective personnel
Conte Candoli ( tpt Al Porcino ( tpt ) Ray Linn ( tpt ) Jack Sheldon ( tpt ) Ed Leddy ( tpt ) Ray  Triscari ( tpt ) Lee Katzman ( tpt ) Stu Williamson ( tpt / V. tmb )  Frank Rosolino ( tmb ) Carl Fontana ( tmb ) Ray Sims ( tmb ) Vern Friley ( tmb ) Lew McCrery ( tmb ) Ken Shroyer ( ( bass tmb ) 
Joe Maini ( alto ) Herb Geller ( alto ) Charlie Mariano ( alto ) Charlie Kennedy ( alto / tnr )Richie Kamuca ( tnr ) Bill Perkis ( tnr ) Steve Perlow ( bar ) Jack Nimitz ( bar ) Bill Hood ( bar ) Vince De Rosa ( fr horn ) John Cave ( fr horn ) Lou Levy ( pno ) Victor Feldman ( pno ) Jimmy Rowles ( pno )Max  Bennett ( bass ) Buddy Clark ( bass ) Joe Mongragon ( bass ) Mel Lewis ( drs )
Disc One tracks 1 to 6 
The Fabulous Bill Holman
Recorded Los Angeles, 25 to 29 April 1957
Disc One tracks 7 to 14 & Disc Two track 1 – Big Band in a Jazz Orbit
Recorded  Los Angeles, 11 to 14 February 1958
Disc Two tracks 2 to 12 – Bill Holman’s Great Big Band
Recorded Los Angeles, June to July 1960
Disc Two tracks 13 to 20 – Bill Holman Octet 
Don Fagerquist ( tpt ) Bob Enevoldsen ( val tmb ) Stu Williamson ( val tmb ) Herb Geller ( alto ) Bill Holman ( tnr / arr ) Bob Gordon ( bar ) Curtis Counce ( bass ) Stan Levey ( drs ) 
Recorded Los Angeles, May1954
Disc Two tracks 21 & 22 – Bill Holman Octet
Nick Travis ( tpt ) Bob Enevoldsen ( val tmb ) Stu Williamson ( val tmb ) Herb Geller ( alto ) Bill Holman ( tnr / arr ) Bob Gordon ( bar ) Max Bennett ( bass ) Stan Levey ( drs ) 
Recorded Los Angeles, 2 August 1954

In Bill Holman wrote six arrangements for the Stan Kenton Orchestra among these was an arrangement of the well known jazz standard “Stomping at the Savoy”. The Kenton orchestra played this number at every concert on his first tour of the UK in 1956 to great acclaim and was the success of the tour.

All the tracks on these two discs are more or less contemporary with that recording and have the same values, they are original, they leave room for the soloists and there is great interaction between the soloists and band. One of the main priorities on an up tempo number is for the band to swing and Bill Holman arrangements certainly do that.

The first six tracks on CD One are the complete album “The Fabulous Bill Holman” and contain three tracks composed by Bill Holman. Unfortunately the recording is slightly muddy and the bass is a little too prominent in the mix but this does not affect the quality of the music on the album.

Sonny Rollins number “Airegin” translates well to a big band setting and the trumpet section really set the piece on fire.

The Bill Holman composition is a ling piece lasting nearly seventeen minutes and has several changes of mood and pace. Towards the end of the track there is an interesting exchange of ideas between bill Holman and Richie Kamuca on tenors and the whole composition hangs together.
There are solos throughout the album fron Conte Candoli, Charlie Mariano, Heb Geller and Bill Holman himself which adds to the interest.
The second album on CD One which carries over on to CD Two is “Jazz in Orbit” and the sound quality is much improved, there is good quality stereo separation and a much brighter feel to the music.

Billy Strahorn & Co’s composition is a bright Lively number which has solos by the leader himself on tenor, Charlie Mariano on alto and Frank Rosolino on trombone whose big band solos are always more incisive in this type of setting.

“You Go To My Head is one of those Bill Holman arrangements  which find hidden depths in the tune and other avenues to explore.
This album is full of excellent arrangements with solos to match with a mixture of Bill Holman originals and well known standards.
The final big band album on this set is “Bill Holman’s Great Big Band”and again has a fine array of soloists including Bill Perkins and Richie Kamuca on tenor as well as Bill Holman himself.

Who else but Bill Holman would come up with a hard hitting swinging arrangement of “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over” which also has a high octane trumpet solo by Lee Katzman as well as a hard swinging alto solo by Joe Maini.

Billy Strayhorn’s gem “Lush Life” is given over to the lyrical trumpet of Conte Candoli who excels himself.

The bonus Bill Holman Octet tracks were recorded three years earlier than the first big band album and are cameos of the big band arrangements, all the numbers are Bill Holman compositions. The track “Sparkle” is memorable for Bob Gordon’s baritone solo which is to be savoured.

This set of Bill Holman recordings which will fill some gaps in collectors recordings of him must be a candidate for albums of the year for 2016.

Reviewed by Roy Booth

Original Source