Red Holloway & Eddie Higgins Trio | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Red Holloway & Eddie Higgins Trio 

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RED HOLLOWAY & EDDIE HIGGINS TRIO

In the days when he played prominently with Chicago bluesmen--Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Roosevelt Sykes--and then with B.B. King and Chuck Berry, Red Holloway established himself as a silk-and-grit saxophone voice. When he began to work regularly with Sonny Stitt, in the late 1970s, his fluid command of hard-bop improvising forced the jazz world to reevaluate his place in modern music. But he hasn't abandoned his earliest professional ties; indeed, in his tone, phrasing, inflection, and rhythmic style Holloway summons up the blues every time he touches either tenor or alto to his lips. (And if by some chance he doesn't volunteer to sing one of his Eddie Vinson-style blues tunes, audience members should shame him into it.) Holloway rarely records as a leader, instead spending his studio time augmenting the efforts of others such as Clark Terry, Jack McDuff, and Joe Williams. Another musician known for making everyone around him sound better--and another Chicago favorite--leads the trio accompanying Holloway for this engagement. Eddie Higgins displays a piano persona that combines swing rhythms, bop harmonies, and some postbop textures and voicings: it constitutes a short history of piano jazz, highlighted by the spectacular, filigreed ornamentations that grow naturally out of Higgins's bouncy attack. Few pianists make this much music while accompanying others. Higgins's own solos, compact and accomplished, cover the territory staked out by Nat Cole and Hank Jones, hovering between the swing era's rhythmic order and the propulsive lyricism of later jazz. That territory will most likely provide the common ground for Higgins and Holloway, whose busiest solos have a strong affinity with those of his fellow southwesterner, the tenor-sax swing great Arnett Cobb. Eddie de Haas and Rusty Jones round out the band, on bass and drums respectively. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 and 10 PM, next Friday and Saturday, May 10 and 11, 9 and 11 PM, and next Sunday, May 12, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 670-2473. NEIL TESSER

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