Weekend Listening Tip: Holman At Port Townsend

At 87, Bill Holman still hits the road occasionally. He did this summer and unveiled a major work. Sunday on his Jazz Northwest program, the veteran jazz broadcaster Jim Wilke will present his recording of the new piece and others by Holman conducting a big band loaded with stars. In the Jim Levitt photo below, you see Holman at work. Baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan is visible on the left end of the reed section.

Holman at Port Townsend

Here is part of Mr. Wilke’s announcement, including information about how to hear the Holman concert he recorded at the Centrum Port Townsend Jazz Festival.

Bill Holman was in Port Townsend this summer to talk about composing and arranging and direct a concert featuring his arrangements played by an all-star big band. A special feature of this Peplowski at Port Townsedconcert was Northwest Passages, an extended work composed by Bill Holman especially for Jazz Port Townsend. The celebrated jazz clarinetist Ken Peplowski was the featured soloist. The concert was recorded for broadcast and will air Sunday, August 31 at 2 PM Pacific on 88.5, KPLU.

Centrum’s Jazz Port Townsend Festival All-Star Big Band is exactly that. The eighteen-member band was comprised of internationally renown musicians who also served as the faculty for the Jazz WorkshopTerell Stafford flugel which precedes the Festival. Terell Stafford, Ingrid Jensen, Wycliffe Gordon, Jiggs Whigham, Gary Smulyan, Jeff Hamilton and others joined resident musicians including Jay Thomas, Thomas Marriott, Dave Marriott, Dan Marcus, Travis Ranney, Mark Taylor, Bill Ramsay, Randy Halberstadt, Chuck Deardorf and others. Most of the musicians in the band are leaders of their own groups.

Jazz Northwest is recorded and produced by Jim Wilke, exclusively for 88.5 KPLU where it airs Sundays at 2 PM Pacific and simultaneously streams at kplu.org. The program is also available as a podcast at jazznw.org after the broadcast.

(Photos by Jim Levitt)

To further whet your interest, here’s Maestro Holman in 1985 in London conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in his “Theme And Variations.” You will notice from his minimalist podium style that Holman’s music practically conducts itself. The drummer we occasionally glimpse is the formidable Martin Drew (1944-2010).

For other recent Rifftides posts about Holman, go here.

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  1. Jim Brown says

    Consider that this composition and arrangement are more than 60 years old. In the late ’60s, I used the Kenton recording, of it (Kenton Showcase, recorded summer of 1953) as a closing theme for an all night jazz show in Chicago. “The Opener” was my opener. Stan Levey was the drummer. Bill wrote another “Theme and Variations” (#2), recorded with his own band c.a. 1958, with drummer Mel Lewis, released on Big Band In A Jazz Orbit. It’s equally nice. Both were all star sessions. It’s worth chasing down those original recordings.