Afterbeat #10 - Bill Holman

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Mon Feb 20, 2012 • 88 min

Of the three great Los Angelest jazz arrangers - Clare Fischer, Bob Florence, and Willis (Bill) Holman - only Holman remains and he's still going strong.  He wrote for all the classic jazz bands: Kenton, Rich, Basie, Herman, as well as for Doc Severinson's Tonight Show band.  He wrote for the Liberty and Pacific Jazz recording sessions that defined mid-century modern jazz on the west coast.  Singers like Natalie Cole, Peggy Lee and the Fifth Dimension sought him out, as did the Norwegian and German radio orchestras.   He wrote all the charts for the recent debut CD of Pete Christleib and Linda Small's Tall And Small Band. (Pete spent a good bit of Afterbeat #4 talking about these charts; that's high praise indeed.) His charts are in the books of every rehearsal band in Los Angeles.  He's also got one of the best bands currently working, an all-star group that defines hard-swinging good taste.   Willis discusses all of this and more on Afterbeat #10, including his approach to arranging: he wants his charts to sound like "improvised music" and he certainly hits that mark.  Holman's music may be challenging, but it's also rewarding with a constant  sense of swing and surprise.  Although he says he's not much of a teacher, listening to or playing one of his arrangements is a lesson in voicing, rhythmic organization and pure musical joy (and quite a bit of envy for those of us who also try to write).  He was generous with his time and remains one of the great gentlemen on the L.A. scene.