For disingenuous reasons Go Red Go! is a good companion for Cy Touff and Sandy Mosse's Tickle Toe which Delmark reissued in 2008. Both albums offer up straight-ahead mainstream jazz of the most worthwhile order performed by men who know the territory inside out. The crucial difference between the two is that while Touff and Mosse worked a neo-swing seam, Red Holloway and friends offer up soul-jazz of a kind that doesn't denigrate the term. Regardless of such differences both sets put a smile on the face and give even the heaviest heart a lift.
In the past Holloway has served time in the bands of both Brother Jack McDuff and George Benson, and yet he's still finding new things to say. On the understandably up-tempo title track he's a man with an awful lot of living to do and a tenor sax vocabulary sterling enough to persuade even the greatest skeptic. The band is with him for the whole of the piece's less than four minute duration and it's the easiest thing in the world to imagine it pouring out of some roadside diner's jukebox circa 1960.
Holloway isn't about just the tenor sax, however. On a lengthy "Stardust" he waxes boppishly eloquently on alto, showing a resemblance to no-one who springs readily to mind. Indeed even his take on the kind of rhapsodic approach first posited by Johnny Hodges is entirely his own, although the two men do share a healthy skepticism for sentimentality even in taking such a line. On this one organist Chris Foreman exhibits a lightness of touch even while his bass is quietly propulsive. This helps to make for a performance purged of all excess in which not a second is wasted.
Remarkably the same is true of "I Like It Funky" which lives up to its title even while collective feet only ease the accelerators down slightly. The result effortlessly lifts the spirit. Guitarist George Freeman's work sounds superficially like an oblique take on Grant Green, although his blues feel is more down-home than Green's ever was. Holloway preaches in effective fashion and drummer Greg Rockingham's backbeat, at one and the same time fat and lean, lends credence to his surname.
Holloway shouts the blues too, literally, on the closing "Keep Your Hands Off Her," where his vocal is that of a man some way short of his ninth decade on this earth, and when he puts that tenor sax in his mouth again after Foreman's greasy eloquence the clouds part and the sun comes out, with warmth sufficient to reach the soul.
Love Walked In; I Like it Funky; Go Red Go; Deep Purple; St. Thomas; Stardust; Bag's Groove; Wave; Keep Your Hands off Her.
Red Holloway: tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, vocals (9); Chris Foreman: Hammond B3 organ; Henry Johnson: guitar; George Freeman: guitar (2, 9); Greg Rockingham: drums.
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