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March 2004

Red Holloway
Coast to Coast
Milestone

This is the classic two-tenor "battle" accompanied by organ, guitar and drums. The sometimes-raucous Holloway and the smoother, ex-Basieite Frank Wess share the joie-de-vivre of saxophony while Dr. Lonnie Smith (organ), Melvin Sparks (guitar) and Paul Humphrey (drums) coax them on. It's a good session, full of blues-rooted declarations and infectious rhythms and soulful expression. Everyone's a winner.

The fast tempo of "Avalon" proves the tenormen's agility and bop chops. Holloway's "Still Groovin'" is a shuffle that could pack the dance floor all night long. "Indian Summer," with Holloway switching to alto, slows the beat down to ballad tempo for some fine melodic interplay by the horns. Holloway sings Helen Humes' "Million Dollar Secret," a tune perfectly consistent with the bluesy, party atmosphere of this set.

Smith, who is showing up on a lot of sessions these days, reinforces his reputation as an always engaging soloist and an ideal accompanist. Sparks' name is somewhat self-descriptive as regards his guitar playing here. And Humphrey is always in the pocket. This rhythm section feels just right.

If you dig the two-tenor scene, you can catalog this with your Lockjaw Davis-Johnny Griffin, Gene Ammons- Sonny Stitt, Al Cohn-Zoot Sims and Dexter Gordon-Wardell Gray collection and let the good times roll on.

Originally published in March 2004
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