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Tenor man Red Holloway was making headlines and packing clubs in the early sixties fronting Jack McDuff's powerhouse band (with guitarist George Benson) when the organist's label, Prestige, gave him a shot at making his own music. Although he'd been an active jazz player for two decades (and remains one today), Holloway only recorded his debut, The Burner in 1963, with young comers John Patton on organ and Eric Gale on guitar. That and 1965's Red Soul, the third of Holloway's three Prestige records, are ideally paired on this excellent CD.
Holloway builds spicy blues and muscular soul foundations then grinds out hard lines overtop. He seems to come out of Gene Ammons' bag. But he doesn't stray toward the sentimentality that Ammons was often fond of exploring. He stays hard and keeps it up. Likewise, Paul Serrano (in the Blue Mitchell role) is a good foil, Eric Gale adds a fuzzy edge to his Benson-isms and Patton, comping a la McDuff, solos with his own Patton-ted blues forcefulness. The nine Red Soul tracks dig deeper toward that club-groove Holloway perfected with the McDuff group. That's due mostly to the addition of guitarist George Benson – who's nothing less than wondrous in this bag. His solos are crisp, clean, uniquely twisted, sincerely delivered and, best of all, groove like nobody's business. All that talent and he's singing forgettable pop ditties now! Benson also is credited with five of the best groove numbers here. Lonnie Smith, who was part of Benson's combo at this point, is heard on organ in four of numbers.
Most noticeable, though, is the development in Holloway's sound evident on these tracks. He's just as bad on the groove, but he heads away from Ammons and toward his own more interesting vocabulary. All told, there are some great players here making great sounds playing serious party music. It's greasy. But, man, it satisfies. This one's a scorcher and it's worth hearing.
Tracks:Monkey Sho' Can Talk; Brethren; Crib Theme; The Burner; Miss Judie Mae; Moonlight in Vermont; Making Tracks; Movin' On; Good & Groovy; Get it Together; Big Fat Lady; Tear in My Heart; Eagle Jaws; I'm All Packed; The Regulars.
Personnel: Red Holloway: tenor sax; Paul Serrano, Hobart Dotson: trumpet; John Patton, George Butchka, Lonnie Smith: organ; Eric Gale, Charles Lindsay, George Benson: guitar; Leonard Gaskin, Thomas Palmer, Chuck Rainey: bass; Herbie Lovelle, Bob by Durham, Ray Lucas: drums.