02/25/12

Saxophonist Red Holloway Dead at 84

Chicago tenor was prolific leader and sideman for six decades

Red Holloway, the tenor saxophonist who recorded a number of albums as a leader beginning in the early 1960s and who worked with Sonny Stitt, “Brother” Jack McDuff and Clark Terry, among many more, died today, Feb. 25, following a stroke and kidney failure, according to an email received by JazzTimes from an associate. Holloway was 84.

Born James Holloway on May 31, 1927, in Helena, Ark., the musician who would be known as Red throughout his career began playing saxophone at age 12. After attending the Chicago Conservatory of Music, he performed with the U.S. Fifth Army Band. Settling in Chicago upon his discharge, Holloway worked with Gene Weight’s big band and with Dexter Gordon and Yusef Lateef, as well as the blues musicians Willie Dixon, Roosevelt Sykes and others within that genre.

Holloway’s collaborations as a sideman included a dizzyingly diverse list ranging from Billie Holiday, Sonny Rollins and Lester Young on the jazz side to Aretha Franklin, B.B. King and Muddy Waters in the blues realm.

Holloway became a member of the house band at Chance Records in 1952 and recorded on sessions for other Chicago-based labels, including Vee-Jay. He also led his own quartet beginning in 1952. In 1963 Holloway joined organist McDuff’s band, staying for three years. In 1963 he also recorded his first album as a leader, The Burner, for the Prestige label. Holloway recorded albums for numerous other labels in subsequent years, including two duet sets with fellow saxophonist Sonny Stitt. Holloway also played with Terry regularly.

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