Hommage (Jazzed Media)

The Bill Holman Band

Released May 8, 2007

Grammy Nominee for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album 2008

DownBeat 4½ Stars Review

YouTube: https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=4ihTvhIpf8g&list=OLAK5uy_ne28YuOlg9FPrbr6zLG_Cyn-NipwuyLQY

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/7Jf1H3hsvVeE5ifGolnnQU?si=UocDASiaQwiSpoFS8q6TEw


Well-deserved accolades abound for Bill Holman. Known for his command of multi-themed linear writing, Holman continues to defy pigeonholing. Multi-reed band member Bob Efford says, ‘You never know what is going to come out of him but it’s always fresh without seeming to try to be, for want of a better word, modern’. 
Bill Holman came to national attention as a tenor saxophone player and, shortly afterward, as a composer and arranger for Stan Kenton in March 1952. Although Bill’s stint with Kenton’s band was short (until November 1953), he continued to contribute compositions and arrangements. Many of these stayed in the Kenton book until the band’s demise in 1979 proving why Bill was, is, and will be considered one of the major forces in the history of American Jazz from the early -1950s to the early 21st century. Listening to his music, from any era, is accessible and enjoyable on the surface level yet on repeated listening unveils layer upon layer of intricacies that keep his music timeless and fresh. Since 1987, with their first release The Bill Holman Band, the primary vehicle for Bill’s compositions and arrangements has been his Band. With the exception of commissioned pieces, Bill thinks of his current band members as he writes 
Because the dazzled crowd holds their applause until the end of Hommage, the listener might wonder if this is still a live recording. Bill Holman proclaims amen, ‘Take a bow, fellas.’ 

Annie Byrnes Kuebler (Archivist, Institute of Jazz Studies, John Cotton Dana Library, Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey)

Track Listing:

1. Raincheck (Billy Strayhorn) 8:24

2. Sunshinola (Bill Holman) 6:47

3. Zamboni (Bill Holman) 8:09

4. Bemsha Swing (Denzil Best / Thelonious Monk) 8:10

5. If You Could See Me Now (Tadd Dameron / Carl Sigman) 7:13

6. Woodchopper’s Ball (Joe Bishop / Woody Herman) 6:50

7. Hommage à Woody, Pt. 1: A Man of Few Herds (Bill Holman) 8:34

8. Hommage à Woody, Pt. 2: Milwaukee Nights (Bill Holman) 5:34

9. Hommage à Woody, Pt. 3: The Chopper (Bill Holman) 6:45


Bill Holman: conductor

Carl Saunders: trumpet

Pete DiSiena: trumpet

Ron Stout: trumpet

Jonathan Dane: trumpet (1, 2, 4-9)

Larry Lunetta: trumpet (6-9)

Bob Summers: trumpet (3)

Roger Ingram: trumpet (3)

Lanny Morgan: alto, soprano sax, flute

Bruce Babad: alto, soprano sax, flute

Pete Christlieb: tenor sax

Doug Webb: tenor sax; (1, 2, 4-9)

Ray Herrmann: tenor sax; (3)

Bob Efford: baritone sax, clarinet (2, 6-9)

Bob Carr: baritone sax (6-9)

Jack Redmond: trombone (1, 2, 4-9)

Dave Ryan: trombone (1, 2, 4-9)

Andy Martin: trombone

John Grab: trombone (3)

Craig Gosnell: bass trombone

Bob Enevoldsen: valve trombone (3)

Christian Jacob: piano

Joel Hamilton: bass

Kevin Kanner: drums

Recorded live May 26, 2006, at Los Angeles Jazz Institute, CA, except tracks 7-9, recorded May 29, 2005, at Los Angeles

Producer: Graham Carter

Recorded by Tim Pinch

Mixed and Mastered by Rod Nicas

Photography by Jacob Demerjian


Sometimes it’s a matter of perspective. Having attended the concert in May 2006 at which most of Bill Holman’s latest album, Hommage, was recorded, I must acknowledge a modest level of disappointment. It didn’t seem up to the maestro’s usual standards, an opinion I later shared with Graham Carter, head of Jazzed Media Records.

Okay, so I got it wrong. It wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last. Perhaps I was tired and out of sorts that day. Be that as it may, I am happy to report that the album is appreciably more persuasive and rewarding than the concert, or at least the concert as I remember it. For one thing, it swings harder and more frequently; for another, the soloists are on top of their game, especially pianist Christian Jacob, tenor Pete Christlieb, trumpeter Ron Stout and clarinetist Bob Efford, who sits in for honoree Woody Herman on “Woodchopper’s Ball and Holman’s three-part Hommage à Woody.

“Ball isn’t anything like the classic arrangement one is accustomed to hearing; it’s more like Woody’s Herd meets Gil Evans, but once the theme gains momentum it shuffles nicely along behind earnest solos by Efford and trumpeter Larry Lunetta. Holman wraps up the concert with Hommage, a colorful tour de force for Efford and the ensemble that opens with the spirited “Man of Few Herds, segues into the sultry “Milwaukee Nights (with occasional hints of “Blue Flame ) and scurries home with “The Chopper, on which Efford and the ensemble weather and subdue Holman’s strenuous chart.

Herman is one of four legendary jazz artists to whom Holman pays his respects. The others are Billy Strayhorn (“Raincheck ), Thelonious Monk (“Bemsha Swing ) and Tadd Dameron (“If You Could See Me Now, a showcase for Stout). Jacob, Christlieb and trumpeter Jonathan Dane are the soloists on “Raincheck, with Jacob, Stout, alto Bruce Babad and the band’s talented young drummer, Kevin Kanner, featured on “Bemsha Swing. Completing the program are a pair of Holman’s typically off-center compositions, “Sunshinola and “Zamboni, the last of which sounds much like something Bob Florence might have written. They say it takes a big man to admit a mistake. Well, I’m only 5’8 tall but I suppose that will have to suffice. I don’t know how Graham Carter and the folks at Jazzed Media did it, but Hommage is in almost every respect more impressive than the concert as I remember it. Perhaps, as noted, it’s a matter of perspective, and one has to hear Holman’s music more than once to fully appreciate it. On first hearing I wouldn’t have recommended Hommage; now I have no problem endorsing it without pause.

Jack Bowers (All About Jazz)