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Bill Holman: Further Adventures – The Netherlands Metropole Orchestra

Seventy-one-year-old Bill Holman has long been one of our finest arrangers, with a well-deserved reputation established from his charts for Kenton, Herman, and Basie, to name three of many, and his own band, which he formed in 1975. In fact, their Monk tribute, Brilliant Corners, won last year’s Big Band Grammy. Since 1980, Holman has also worked regularly in Europe; writing, conducting, and playing concerts. “Issues and Answers,” was his first composition for the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra in Hilversum, Holland back in 1980 and in 1995, he rejoined the band for two new works, a four-part suite, which serves as the title selection here, and his arrangement of Alfred Newman’s “Moon of Manakorah.”

This is surely a match made in heaven, superbly conceived and executed. Holman’s compositions and arrangements are vivd, alive, and totally original. He can swing but utilizes an emotional musical palette of many dimensions. Holman is firmly based in big bands but his orchestra work builds on the tradition instead of revisiting it. These aren’t big band charts with some strings added, he uses the entire 58 piece orchestra as a masterful vehicle, much like Ellington utilized his musicians.

Originally Published