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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Blue Skies

Delmark DE 5010



1. Blue Skies

2. Just Friends

3. Solar

4. Blue In Green

5. Someday My Prince Will Come

6. Along Came Betty

7. Just in Time

8. On the Sunny Side of the Street


Ira Sullivan – Tenor sax, trumpet

Jim Holman – Piano

Roger Humphries – Drums (tracks 1-3, 7, 8)

George Fludas – Drums (tracks 4-6)

Nick Schneider – Bass (tracks 1-3, 7, 8)

Dennis Carroll – Bass (tracks 4-6)


This is a rather strange album. It is entitled “Ira Sullivan presents the Jim Holman Trio”, as if this is Holman’s debut CD. But Jim has already made an album – Explosion! – in 2012, which I reviewed favourably the same year. So he is not entirely a newcomer.

As in Holman’s first album, the recordings were made in two separate sessions. Tracks 4 to 6 were recorded in May 2011, with the remainder taped in September 2012. For this CD, the young Holman is joined by veteran Ira Sullivan, who was already in his early eighties when these recordings were made.

The title-track starts with Sullivan on muted trumpet, betraying some signs of age in his wandering intonation. Jim Holman comes in to break up the tune with capricious timing which is almost avant-garde. As in his previous album, Holman plays somewhat in the style of Bud Powell, concentrating on the right hand, although hiss fragmented approach also recalls Thelonious Monk. Drummer Roger Humphries sounds as if he is trying to demolish the studio.

Ira Sullivan switches to tenor sax for Just Friends. Holman’s solo again plays about with the tempo, which is interesting rather than perverse. Sullivan reverts rather uncertainly to the trumpet for Solar, the first of two Miles Davis compositions, the other being Blue in Green, where Sullivan lays out and Holman plays a fascinatingly wayward solo.

Someday My Prince Will Come includes challenging solos from Sullivan and Holman. Benny Golson’s Along Came Betty is a relaxed stroll through bebop territory. They up the tempo for Just in Time, with a sparkling solo by Jim Holman and a muscular drum solo from Roger Humphries. The CD closes with an unusually slow version of On the Sunny Side of the Street, where Ira Sullivan’s velvety tenor sax may remind listeners of Ben Webster.

This is an absorbing album despite its occasional flaws, some of which might be put down to the musicians’ intrepid sense of adventure.

Tony Augarde

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