The origin of this labor of love derives from long dormant charts that Bill Holman wrote for an aborted project in the 1980s. Resurfacing here, these never-before-heard scores display an overlooked aspect of Holman’s art, that of the small-group arranger. Long celebrated for his associations with the big bands of Stan Kenton and others, Holman is also a master of deriving orchestral heft from more compact ensembles. Led by its trumpeter, the Carl Saunders Exploration-on this a septet occasionally augmented by guest soloist Sam Most on baritone saxophone and flute-works overtime to accommodate Holman’s stuffed-to-the gills arrangements. The result is a polished performance that necessarily pulls attention away from the sturdy soloists and back to the man behind the scenes.
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