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Marvin "Doc" Holladay: Sweetness and Light

Jack Bowers By

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Picture in your mind's eye Gerry without Chet but with a dash more rhythm. Got it? Okay, that's not precisely what we have here (Holladay's temperament and purpose are quite unlike Mulligan's, for one thing) but the over-all feeling prevails. This is a pianoless quartet with conguero Ozzie Orengo sitting in for Chet on Sonny Rollins' lively samba, "St. Thomas," and Holladay playing baritone, bass clarinet ("Pas de Deux"), ashanti flute ("St. Thomas") and Ewe double bell. "Pas de Deux" and "Echoes" are adventurous spur-of-the-moment improvisations, the first pairing Holladay's bass clarinet with Wadopian's arco bass, the second involving the group as a whole with Holladay on baritone. The leader's name appears as composer on two of the tunes, the slow blues "Maqam" and the ballad "Sweetness and Light" - whose soft melody, although credited to Holladay, is almost note-for-note identical to "Before I Gaze at You" from Lerner and Loewe's Broadway smash, Camelot. As befits one who played with Mercer Ellington's orchestra, Holladay's baritone has a Carney-esque aspect, especially evident on "Maqam" and Duke's "Drop Me Off in Harlem." Completing the program are the standards "Makin' Whoopee" (played slowly to underscore its sensual nature) and "You Don't Know What Love Is," on both of which Holladay's deep baritone is featured. Tempos, except for "St. Thomas," are slow to medium, with meticulous improvisations by all hands and steadfast support from the rhythm section, especially the intrepid Wadopian. An impressive release by an old hand and former teacher who still has much to say to the younger generation.

Track Listing:

Making Whoopee; St. Thomas; Pas de Deux; Maqam; Drop Me Off in Harlem; You Don't Know What Love Is; Echoes; Sweetness and Light (53:52).

Personnel:

Marvin "Doc" Holladay, baritone sax, bass clarinet, atenteben (Ashanti flute), gonkoqui (Ewe double bell); Eliot Wadopian, bass; Byron Hedgepeth, drums; Ozzie Orengo, congas.

Title: Sweetness and Light | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: CAP


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