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November 1998

Red Holloway
In the Red
HighNote Records

Although primarily a West Coaster for the past 30 years, this ebullient 71-year-old tenorman got his grounding in Chicago in the '40s where Gene Ammons became a major influence. Accompanied on this supreb 1997 date by pianist Norman Simmons, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington, Holloway gets going bigtime on the opener, Dexter Gordon's "The Chase," on which he must really have fogged up the studio's windows. Having just established their bop credentials, Red and Co. drift into a grittily luscious version of Ellington's "In My Solitude" (he doesn't sound too lonely, however).

Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man" gets a terrific, lilting treatment reminiscent of "The Sidewinder" that shows just how versatile this quartet is. Tenorman who are comfortable (and effective) on alto are a rare breed and Holloway shows us his worth on one oldie ("The Gypsy") and a Simmons original, "A Tear in My Heart," an even dreamier number-with hints of both Hodges and Bird! With just two of the eight tunes under six minutes it must be pointed out that there's no padding, not a dull spot anywhere, thanks in no small part to the excellent rhythm section. This vital recording should establish Holloway as one of the best on the scene.

Originally published in November 1998
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