Washington, D.C. native Ron Holloway is perhaps not as well-known as some other saxophone players, such as Benny Carter or Sonny Stitt. But his skills take a backseat to no one. Over the years he has performed with Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Gil Scott-Heron, Derek Trucks, The Allman Brothers Band, Susan Tedeschi (Trucks’ wife), and others.
Ron Holloway And
 Friends 2003 Jazzmont
Holloway’s recorded output has been limited, consisting of five albums released under his own name and two with Dizzy Gillespie. The disk I’m going to discuss today is the latest, released in 2003 on the Jazzmont Records label: “Ron Holloway & Friends Live At Montpelier!”
The personnel for tracks 1, 2 and 4 are:
Ron Holloway, tenor sax
Chris Battistone, trumpet
Charles Wright, guitar
Harry Appelman, piano
Tommy Cecil, acoustic base
Marty Morrison, drums
The personnel for tracks 3 and 5 through7 are:
Ron Holloway, tenor sax
 Julia Nixon, vocals (Track 3 and 6 only)
Chris Battistone, trumpet
Charles Wright, guitar
Benjie Porecki, keyboards
David Dyson, electric bass
Andre “Blues” Webb, drums
This was recorded over two live sets on March 8, 2002 at the Montpelier Cultural Arts Center in Laurel, Maryland. The crowd was small but obviously appreciative.
The show begins with a marathon thirteen and a half minute version of Freddie Hubbard’s classic, “Sidewinder”, with Holloway and trumpeter Battistone doing a duet for the first minute and a half. Then Battistone steps back and Holloway takes over. Three minutes later he turns the lead back to Battistone, followed by the whole crew. “Sidewinder” definitely sets the audience up for everything that is to follow.
Beginning with “Poinciana”, great tune that’s been around since at least the 1930’s but which still sounds fresh and new under Holloway’s interpretation.
“At Last” brings vocalist Julia Nixon out to join Holloway and his group. This is a beautiful, quiet ballad that leaves you feeling as though you are floating on a sea of music.
Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island” has become something of a standard, but Holloway & company’s performance here is anything but “standard”. Guitarist Wright especially stands out as Holloway gives him the lead early on and he runs with it. When Holloway takes over again, it is obvious who the leader is. Listening to this song, especially, it strikes me as such a crying shame that this wonderfully talented man hasn’t found more time to capture his art on disk.
Another Hancock composition that has become a standard, “Chameleon”, is up next. Bassist Dyson shines as he opens the piece with some decidedly funky grooves. He is soon joined by Holloway and the others. This song may not be for everyone, but I have to admit that I love it. There’s not much more I can say here except, if you like it funky, this one’s definitely for you!
The penultimate song, “Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On” with Julia Nixon returning for the vocal, should have been the final song of the set. Nixon’s vocal here has a remarkable strength and vibrancy to it. “All Blues”, the actual final song, is hardly lacking in that department, I think “Black Drawers” would have made a better “exit, stage left” piece.
That is entirely my personal opinion only, and is definitely not meant to imply that the performances on “All Blues” are in any way lacking, because they aren’t. I’m just sayin’… Heh.
The running time for “Ron Holloway & Friends” is just under 73 minutes, but the disk seems longer than that, possibly because most of the songs are 11 minute or more monsters. Gotta love live music!
Speaking of which, here are guitarist Warren Haynes and Ron Holloway in another live performance, in Jamaica in January of 2010:

I think you’ll find that “Ron Holloway & Friends Live At Montpelier!” would make a wonderful addition to any jazz lover’s personal playlist for a Saturday (or any other) night!
To learn more about Ron Holloway and his music, visit his web site.
I’m going to take next Saturday off. I am an atheist, but Christmas is hardly about religion any more for most people, and there are places to go and things to do.
Whether you are religious or not, please accept my best wishes for a happy, safe holiday.
I’ll see you back here in two weeks for a special New Years Eve edition of Jazz For A Saturday Night!

Al Evans

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