Talk about a more than welcome return! A full 26 years after leaving the realm of recording to focus on a successful career as a jazz educator, bop saxophonist and one time musical prodigy Christopher Hollyday is back in fine form with rich, expressive arrangements of a unique array of six standards with his tight, feisty quintet.
A quarter century is a long time to be off the jazz scene, so Hollyday – now in his late 40’s – might simply be an exciting, progressive new voice on alto for many. Others may recall that after releasing his debut album at 14 and four well received RCA projects from 1989-921, he was considered a promising young lion. When he was dropped from the label, he hardly went into hibernation, becoming band director at Valley Center High School in San Diego – but his solo career went by the wayside.
With swagger, cool, confidence and frequent bursts of improvisational notes, he and his band (pianist Joshua White, trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, bassist Rob Thorsen and drummer Tyler Kreutel) romp aggressively through Freddie Hubbard’s “One of Another Kind,” jump buoyantly through wild, polyrhythmic grooves on Bud Powell’s “Hallucinations” and have some colorful, stop and start percussive fun on “Everything Happens.”
The quintet is equally inventive in tackling well known gems like “Autumn in New York,” “I’ve Got The World on a String” and Charlie Parker’s punchy “Segment,” which includes the set’s most freewheeling solos by Hollyday and Castellanos