While Live in New York & L.A. is a split-scene production crossing coasts, spanning several years and utilizing different personnel lists, it offers a cohesive playlist. Not surprisingly, Bob Holz ties everything together with his kit and charisma. Mixing standards and originals to good effect, this Berklee-trained drummer, who previously worked with everybody from guitarist Larry Coryell to trumpeter Randy Brecker to bassist Stanley Clarke, is always in his element.
Frontloading the album with half a dozen numbers recorded back in 2016 in Syracuse, New York, Holz leans mostly on familiar fare. Opening with Miles Davis' immortal "All Blues," the band is right in the zone. Vocalist Ronnie Leigh offers soul in good supply, guitarist Chet Catallo cuts a cool-to-blazing trail, and Holz's brushes have their moment in the sun during that engaging opener. Then it's off to Freddie Hubbard's "Little Sunflower," served up as an appropriately fusion-forward dish; over to "A Night in Tunisia," showcasing keyboardist Tom Witkowsky's hyper happenings and Leigh's scat soloing; on to Ralphe Armstrong's slow and sizzling "Blue Mashed Potatoes," featuring the composer's welcoming work and leaning into the titular form with a 12/8 feel; and off to a passionate take on "Georgia on my Mind." Then, to close out the New York night, Holz and company move into Catallo's winning "Blues for C.C."
Hopping over to Los Angeles in late 2018 and early 2019, Holz finishes things off with two originals. "Jammin' Man," with reggae undertones and a structure that's open to the implications in the title, finds saxophonist Brandon Fields, guitarist Mike Miller and bassist Ric Fierabracci in prime form. And the slick "Riptide," with glazed grooves and glories, brings the album to its conclusion. Holz, working with well-matched bands, touching down in different styles and settings, and laying down the law, leaves much to appreciate with his handiwork.
A Night in Tunisia;
Blue Mashed Potatoes; Georgia on My Mind;
Blues for C.C;
Jammin' Man; Riptide.
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