2. Recorda Me
3. Over the Rainbow
4. Lazy Bird
5. Bye Bye Blackbird
7. Straight, No Chaser
8. Moment's Notice
10. Cantaloupe Island
Jim Holman - Piano
Frank Catalano - Tenor sax (tracks 1, 3, 5, 6)
Richie Cole - Alto sax (tracks 7, 8)
Brian Sandstrom - Bass
Rusty Jones - Drums (tracks 1-6)
Rick Shandling - Drums (tracks 7-10)
This is the debut album of a young pianist, Jim Holman, a 23-year-old born in Chicago, who has been performing in that city's jazz clubs since he was 16. He has obviously matured during those years to become a very considerable pianist. Much of the time he plays in a fairly straightforward style comparable to Bud Powell but there are also traces of perversity reminiscent of Thelonious Monk, especially when he is playing alongside such daring musicians as tenorist Frank Catalano, who appears on four tracks of this CD.
In fact the first six tracks were recorded in August 2011, two years after the other four which were cut in August 2009, but there is not much difference between them. The most invigorating tracks are the four where Catalano appears. The title-track is Frank's composition and the quartet really catches fire on this tune, with an explosive quality lit by Catalano's wailing tenor. This seems to stimulate Jim Holman, who only comps lightly during Frank's searing solo but then produces a solo of his own that defies expectation by going up all kinds of side roads, which his well-developed technique allows him to explore.
Catalano's other composition is Shakin' which is rather similar, though with a jazz-fusion feel provided by Rusty Jones' drums. Catalano's solo reveals the influence of John Coltrane - an influence that is put to good use and which again prompts Holman to some adventurous playing. Frank is also present in Bye Bye Blackbird (very Sonny Rollins-like tenor) and Over the Rainbow, taken at mid-tempo and drained of any sentimentality. Holman's solo here is reminiscent of Bud Powell in its concentration on the right hand, with occasional left-hand punctuations.
The other guest saxophonist on the album is altoist Richie Cole, well-known from his work with the Buddy Rich Big Band and Eddie Jefferson. He does some sterling playing on Straight, No Chaser (which starts as if it's going to be in New Orleans marching style) and Moment's Notice, where that Monkish tendency reappears in Jim Holman's playing.
The remainder of the tracks are devoted to Jim Holman's trio. These include Recorda Me which allows Holman to exhibit those touches of waywardness which are so intriguing; John Coltrane's Lazy Bird where the Bud Powell influence is manifest; and Bill, an original by Jim Holman with a wandering melody. The album ends with Herbie Hancock's Cantaloupe Island, which keeps the original seductive rhythm but inserts a few unexpected chords.
Jim Holman is a very talented pianist and we should be hearing a lot more of him in coming years.