Variety Article re Day 2 of the Playboy Jazz Festival, June 17, 2007:
"Eigsti also turned up in the piano chair for the first part of Red Holloway's set later in the afternoon, thus creating one
of the biggest age gaps ever seen in one band (from Eigsti's 21 years to Holloway's 80). Again, the young man was
phenomenal, equally at home in the slow ballad "You've Changed," the fast bop lines of "The Way You Look Tonight"
or the calypso "Fungii Mama." Holloway on tenor sax was in splendid form, voluptuous in the ballads, agile in bop,
and his hard swinging work on the calypso was one of the festival's peak points. The virile-voiced Kevin Mahagony
dropped by in mid-set, and drummer Gerryck King deftly executed what amounted to a silent trading of fours."
By RICHARD S. GINELL, Variety
concepts are founded on soul, both bright and reflective. In everything
he does, Red shows off his lyrical art."
Irv lichtman. Editor, Cashbox
"An exuberant player with attractive tones on both tenor
and alto, Red Holloway is also a humorous blues singer. Whether it be bop,
blues or R&B, Holloway can hold his own with anyone. Holloway played
in Chicago with Gene Wright's big band (1943-46), served in the Army and
then played with Roosevelt Sykes (1948) and Nat Towles (1949-50) before
leading his own quartet (1952-61) during an era when he also recorded with
many blues and R&B acts. Holloway came to fame in 1963 while touring
with Jack McDuff, making his first dates as a leader for Prestige (1963-65).
Although he has cut many records in R&B settings, Red Holloway is a
strong bop soloist at heart as he proved in the 1970s when he battled Sonny
Stitt to a tie on their recorded collaboration. He has mostly worked as
a leader since then but has also guested with Juggernaut and the Cheathams
and played with Clark Terry on an occasional basis."
Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
Holloway -- the dedicated, under-rated leader of the house trio at the
Parisian Room ... kept his trio loose, yet at the same time tightly disciplined
.. he switched tof lute and contributed an excellent obligato ... he generated
a happy gospel flavor -- the result was that satisfying blend of 'front
line' and backup in perfect synchronization ... Red took a few belts from
his ever-present glass of soda water (that's the gospel truth -- soda
water) ... give credit where it's overdue; quite often it's what's up
back that counts."
Harvey Siders. Downbeat, 4/12/73
the final number, "blues Bossa', he was jointed by Red Holloway,
the assertive, big-toned tenor saxophonist recently back from his international
tours with John Mayall. It would have been better had Holloway played
the entire set with Farmer."
Leonard Feather. Los Angeles Times, 7/28/73
guy with enormous experience, both within a wide-ranging spectrum of R&B
and in more conventional jazz forms, is James L. "Red" Holloway,
whose hot, dynamic, yet never totally over the top tenor is to be heard
on more than one occasion throughout this fascinating collection. Born
in Helena, Arkansas in 1927, Red was a student at Chicago's Conservatory
of Music before embarking on an impressive career, first with the big
band led by bassist Eugene Wright (much later to become anchor-man for
the best-known Brubeck Quartet) then, successively, with the territorial
band of Nat Towles and as sideman with bluesman Roosevelt Sykes' 1948
combo. He's worked briefly with one of those tempestuous Hampton big bands,
as a member of Bill Doggett's R&B-based groups and had an unforgettable
(in more ways than one, as he'll no doubt tell you!) two years or so touring
with Lloyd Price's wild and wooly orchestra. More rencetly he's been touring
-- most successfully, too -- as a solo jazz act. And British jazz audiences
should need little reminding of a marvellous UK tour he undertook in 1980,
in company with the late lamented Sonny Stitt who could also lay down
some hookin', stompin' tenor when the mood took him.
That Red Holloway can turn on the heat in prescribed Rootin' & Tootin'
fashion can be easily comprehended by even casual listening to his preaching
tenor outings herein -- often very reminscent of the fiery playing which
enhanced the basically funky music of the Brother Jacc McDuff combo, to
which he was a vital contributor during the early sixties. Obviously stimulated
by the basic, riff-laden support afforded by his colleagues in the Al
Smith Orchestra, Holloway produces the kind of extrovert tenor expected
of him during the fast blues, Last Call, building to the predictable --
and delicious -- climax. Following a fine solo from the unknown guitarist,
he won't be denied, and returns for more hard-hitting sax work. Foolin'
Around Slowly provides a splendid contrast, with its almost Basie-like
feel and basic rhythms. A further unknown sideman (pianist this time)
lays down some lovely blues behind more truly soulful tenor (who sounds
as if he has to be Red, even though there's no official discographical
evidence available). And it's Red again, in a decidedly meaner mood, whose
torried tenor cuts through a less-than-glutinous BUttermilk like a knife
through a slab of butter.
by Stan Britt, The Wire
one good thing ... was the bit of extra time it gave Red Holloway and
his men to display their fine work. With the gracious Holloway anchoring
on tenor, Art Hillary on organ,a nd Donald Bailey, drums, the tiro remains
one of, it not the best, housebands in the area."
Paul Vangelisti. Hollywood Reporter, 7/31/73
For Love, Not the Money, These Saints Go Marching On
Barry Siegel, Los Angeles Times Magazine, 1/26/86
Holloway Brand of Swing Gives the Word a New Meaning. Tough Tenors Live
up to the Name
By Larry Kart. Chicago Tribune, 6/4/82
Eddie Cook, Jazz Journal International, Dec 1982
Holloway, "My Real Roots Were of the Blues"
Norman Darwen, Blues Life, 1986
Holloway Brand of Swing GIves the Word a New Meaning. Tough Tenors Live
up to the Name
By Larry Kart. Chicago Tribune, 6/4/82
"Surely I don't get paid for listing to this"
was the thought that popped into my head as Eddie "Lockjaw"
Davis and Red Holloway swung (and I mean swung) into aciton
Wednesday night at the Jazz Showcase at the Blackstone Hotel.
Tenor saxophonists par excellence, Davis and Holloway are a perfectly
matched pair of friendly rivals. Davis, best known for the many years
he spent with the Basie band, is a more or less direct descendant of Ben
Webster, with a huge, gruff tone and a unique way of toying with the beat
that once led another fine tenor saxophonist, the late Booker Ervin, to
say: "Damn, Jaws played backwards!"
Holloway, a native Chicagoan and like so many other good players, a graduate
of Du Sable High School, is a straight Sonny Stitt man, with a taste of
James Moody in his light, gliding sounds.
Together, Davis and Holloway go under the name of the Tough Tenors, which
certainly meets the standards of the truth-in-labeling act. But by no
means in their music a huff-and-puff affair. In the midst of the ferocious
swing, they generate seemingly without effort, there is an elegance, a
suavity and a thoughtful attention to detail that is rare in jazz of any
"Just Friends," taken way up, was the opener, and immediately
it was clear that this was going to be a fine night for the rhythm section
too. Give drummer Wilbur Campbell a front line he can really push,a nd
he'll show you why he's a master. Kicking the two horns with what seemed
to be total spotaneity, he placed his explosive accents with such precision
that the band couldn't have sounded more together if they had rehearsed
As for Davis' playing "backwards," that feeling comes from the
way his lines echo and re-echo with an ever-increasing rhythmic power,
as though they were bouncing off an imaginary wall. He "tongues"
a great deal (cutting short what otherwise would be sustained tones by
slapping his tongue on the underside of his mouthpiece), and when that
device is combined with the rest of Davis' imposing sonic weaponry, it's
time to roll back the rugs.
Holloway dances, too, and his fluent alto feature, "What's New,"
was a soulful delight. To borrow a phrase from a fellow laborer in the
critical vineyards, I haven't had so much fun since the pigs ate my little
Jazz Journal International.
Red Holloway, by Eddie Cook
"I live in Carson, California but you can call it
Los Angeles because people know Los Angeles. Originally I was from Chicago.
I went to school with Von Freeman, Johnny Griffin .. and in fact when
Johnny Griffin left to go with Lionel Hampton, we were sitting in the
same band in high school. This was about 1946.
'My father was a violin player and my mother played the piano, and she
insisted that I learn how to play the piano for which I'm very thankful.
'I was more or less raised among good musicians, like Gene Ammon's father
-- I knew him before I knew Gene. I used tow ork with Roosevelt Sykes
and he and Albert were very good friends and that's how I met him, I've
been very furtunate.
'During the time when everyone was using dope and killing themselves,
I never had to go through that. A lot of my friends died; I don't konw
what it ws that kep me straight. I consider myself very lucky to be still
alive and playing music.
'My grandmother asked me "what are you going to be?" and I always
said "a musician." After I finished high school, they took me
into the armed forces. IN fact I didn't even finish high school when they
took me in the services! I started working with a band called the Dukes
of Swing in Chicago and Eugene Wright was the bass player, I was working
with him before I left to go into the services and I cam to work with
him when I came back. Then I worked with Lionel Hampton. Not a lot of
people know I was working with Brother Jack and then I worked with a lot
of little bands but I always had a band of my own from 1951 until I left
Chicago. I went to New York in 1960 up until '66 and then I left and went
back to Chicago for a year and then went to Claifornia in '67 and that
is where I have been ever since.
I first went there I played in the studios, but I have been the musicial
director for the Parisien Room for more than 15 years now.'
I asked Red if he had played with Jay McShann before.
'No, this is the first time and you know, he is not just a boogie woogie
piano player, he can play anything. I like the band,f or one thing it
is doing different sets all the time, which is good. That is one of the
things I used to complain about, especially working with big bands --
the same library all the time.'
'I love coming to Europe too, becuase the people relaly come out to hear
jazz; people really come out of their way to listen and that's what I
'I was in London with Brother Jack MacDuff for the first time and I can
never wait to get back there because there are so many shops -- you can
stay in one block for a week! There's a certain mystique in being in Europe
and in Londong too -- I guess it's the history. You learn it all in school
and then you get there and say "hey! Is this really Traitors' Gate?"
And I'm always inspired by the reception from the people.
'I think jazz was even more popular in the forties and fities than it
is now. At that time, Duke Ellington and Luis Armstrong, etc. were still
alive,a nd there was no real competition from other music. The sixties
was a period when jazz never really died, it wasn't as well accepted,
but it is growing again it is very encouraging to see how many young people
are here, a lot are here for the jazz and it is a growing interest. I
am pleased about this because there are two or three generations who have
grown up with knowing jazz.'
Is there any particular type of jazz you consider yourself to be playing
as a specialist?
"I'll play any kind of music to make a living! I have played rock
'n' roll and I have played jazz, it doesn't really matter, I play any
kind. I have worked with Memphis Slim and I have worked with Roosevelt
Sykes, but what I try to do is to make the music sound good. I'm working
with Jay McShann now and it's a pleasure to work with him becuase it is
a challenge to me, when you play one type of music and then you play with
someone else you want to try and pull up to what they're doing, you want
to keep your style but it is a challenge to be able to change your style.'
Sould you adivse young musicians to "get to learn and play at all
types of music and develop your style form there?"
"OK, yes. Blue Mitchell and I worked for two and half years. He hired
us becuase of the fact that he had heard us on records and I thought that
this was great but somebody said "you mean to tell me that you are
gonna work with him?" And I said "Are you kidding? Of course
I am." This is one of the greatest challenges that you can have.
You wanted to play bebop all the time, now you have got to change and
play the music that the younger generation wants and play it convincingly,
so that they will accept it. I enjoyed playing with Mayall. He is a very
good self-taught entertainer and I think it takes an awful lot of nerve
and an awful lot of perserverance in order to become successful. I admire
that, and I enjoy having a good working relationship.
'Before I left to come here I worked a coupld of nights with The Juggernauts,
you know that Nat Pierce band? When I leave here, I'm going to Cutforth
with them on August 6, and down to Claifornia to play a festival. I worked
at the Ottercrest Jazz Festival with them, about two months ago, but like
I said, music to me is music, I really don't care what kind it is. I just
try and figure out how I can make that particular type of music swing.
That's what is important."
It is fairly unusual for someone to play both alto and tenor saxophone
continuously, isn't it?
"I really started to play alto when I was with Sonny Stitt. I didn't
want to play alto with him becuase he is one of the best alto players
and I said I would feel a fool, but he said "Man, you bring your
alto and you are going to play." An dI said "No way." But
that's how I really started playing alto. When we had time off he would
show me little tricks and things so now I enjoy playing alto.
'As I told you, I was playing baritone in the high school band with gloves
on! We would play between halves, at a football match. I only just started
playing alto in 1977, that's when Sonny and I started working together,
and through his insistence, because I was nervous of playing alto with
'In England, I'll be working for Don and Ernie Garside. I have had very
good working relationships with them. I don't usually work without a contract,
but with them I will, becuase they tell you what the situation is and
whatever they agree to pay you, you get. It is one of the things I enjoy
about working for them. I admire a person who keeps his word, like during
the riots last year I think it was, some of those jobs we couldn't make
and some we did but the money he was going to pay us he still paid, and
there was no hassle. He would have been within his rights to say "Well,
we couldnt' make this gig', or whatever, but he didn't and I respect that,
so whenever I can do any favours for them I am more than happy. Sonny
and I were approached by other prmoters but my theory is that you don't
switch horses in mid-stream, if you have a good one you stick with it.'
Note -- this interview was conducted before the death of Sonny Stitt.
Top of Page