Bill Holman: 87 and Swinging


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This is Bill Holman’s birthday. At 87, the great arranger shows no inclination to sit around basking in the glow of his achievements. He and his band are gearing up for a concert tomorrow night at the Los Angeles Jazz Institute’s Adventures In Big Band Jazz, a four-day celebration featuring music associated with 13 big bands. In the course of his career, Holman has written for at least half of them, including those of Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson and Terry Gibbs, not to overlook Count Basie and Gerry Mulligan. I haven’t seen a tune list for his concert, but if the audience is lucky, it will hear his transformation of “Just Friends,” which influenced dozens of arrangers who have followed in his wake.

Rifftides has presented video of Holman conducting the piece before and no doubt will again. It is an arrangement that reveals more of itself upon repeated hearings. This finds Holman in 2000 with the WDR Big Band in Germany. Pianist Frank Chastenier plays the opening solo. Jeff Hamilton is the drummer, John Goldsby the bassist. There’s a bonus—the late James Moody as the guest tenor saxophone soloist.

Independent producer Kathryn King reports that work continues on the Holman documentary she and her crew began filming last fall. She says that the project is about to go into a new round of fund raising. Stay tuned.

Happy birthday, Willis.

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This story appears courtesy of Rifftides by Doug Ramsey.
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