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Red Holloway: Go Red Go!

John Barron By

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Like fine wine, saxophonist extraordinaire Red Holloway seems to get better with age. On Go Red Go!, the octogenarian plays with a fiery intensity that rivals his classic recordings from the 1960s with organist Jack McDuff.

Holloway has always straddled the fence between jazz and blues, having worked with the likes of saxophonist Sonny Stitt and organist Jack McDuff, as well as blues legends Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon. This infectious approach is demonstrated here on 12-bar riff tunes like "I Like it Funky" and the title track. The latter, taken at a blistering tempo, is a highlight of the disc. Here Holloway effortlessly lays out winding bebop phrases alongside charismatic honking and shouting.

Another memorable moment is Holloway's lyrical alto playing on "Stardust." With eerie similarities to his contemporary Hank Crawford (1934-2009) in style and tone, Holloway snakes his way around the familiar Hoagy Carmichael theme with alluring charm.

Organist Chris Foreman and drummer Greg Rockingham, both veterans of the Chicago scene and members of the acclaimed Deep Blue Organ Trio, provide the perfect foundation for Holloway's jazz-meets-blues approach. Foreman's manipulation of the draw bars harnesses the spirit of McDuff, especially on the walk-in-the-park tempos of "Deep Purple" and "Wave."

Guitarist Henry Johnson's warm-tone and flawless technique is on full display throughout the disc. The Chicago native's greasy bop lines intensify the session. His groovy solos on "Bag's Groove" and "St. Thomas" are full of inventiveness and soul.

Holloway toured with blues shouter Roosevelt Sykes in the late 1940s and here he closes the set with Sykes' jump blues "Keep Your Hands off Her," vocalizing with the same matter-of-fact delivery he displays with the horn. Add to that Rockingham's crackling backbeat and guest guitarist George Freeman's jabbing guitar licks and the feeling is that of wanting more and more.


Track Listing: Love Walked In; I Like it Funky; Go Red Go; Deep Purple; St. Thomas; Stardust; Bag's Groove; Wave; Keep Your Hands off Her.

Personnel: Red Holloway: tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, vocals (9); Chris Foreman: Hammond B3 organ; Henry Johnson: guitar; George Freeman: guitar (2, 9); Greg Rockingham: drums.

Title: Go Red Go! | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Delmark Records


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