Sunday, March 18, 2012

Jim Holman - Explosion! (Delmark, 2012)

Jim Holman is an excellent up an coming piano player with a fine touch on the instrument and an impeccable knack of picking great songs to cover. The core trio consists of Holman on piano, with some added horns in the persons of Richie Cole and Frank Catalano. The title track leads things in the right direction from the start, "Explosion!" its straight up modern hard-bop played fast and tight with a minimum of fuss. While there are a couple of ballads on the program including the potentially maudlin "Somewhere over the Rainbow," but the main task Holman sets before the group is to look at the great hard-bop blowing tunes of the past and shed some 21st century light on them. A couple of early John Coltrane compositions are represented, "Lazy Bird" and "Moment's Notice," giving the horn players room to stretch out on some great themes, as is the case on Joe Henderson's classic composition "Recorda Me." You can't have a record of this nature and not include a composition by Thelonious Monk, and the band's version of the Monk anthem "Straight, No Chaser" is filled with impish glee that would have had the composer dancing on the stage as was his predilection when things were going really well. Holman gains special points by wrapping up the album with my favorite Herbie Hancock composition "Cantaloupe Island" (where can I get a ringtone of that classic piano vamp?) taking the record out in grand style. There really isn't a weak spot on the album, and if the modernization of classic hard-bop is your thing, you will really enjoy this record. Explosion! -

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