Red Holloway | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Red Holloway 

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Gritty, sweat-streaked, bluesy tenor saxophone is an essential ingredient in what's come to be known as soul jazz--and tenor man James "Red" Holloway was seducing crowds with that sound well before "soul" was a term people applied to popular music. He was a mainstay in Chicago by the end of the 1940s, playing with Gene Wright's big band, blues guitarist Muddy Waters, and pianist Roosevelt Sykes, but he really broke out when soul-jazz organ grinder Jack McDuff spotlighted him alongside young guitarist George Benson on his 1963 outing Live! (Prestige). Later that year Holloway blew on his own fine slab of vinyl, The Burner, with organist Big John Patton and the trumpets of Paul Serrano and onetime Sun Ra Arkestra member Hobart Dotson. With a big, unshakable sound and more than enough tenderness for ballads, Holloway rose to the top of the soul-jazz hierarchy, alongside Gene Ammons, Willis Jackson, Sonny Stitt, and Harold Vick; over the course of a prolific and engaging recording career, he's also hopped out of that arena and back into straight jazz. His impressive and diverse discography includes Nica's Dream (Steeplechase), an excellent quartet date from '84 with pianist Horace Parlan that features Holloway on alto as well as tenor; and a recent album with trumpet legend Harry "Sweets" Edison, Live at the 1995 Floating Jazz Festival (Chiaroscuro). But for this gig, which is part of the "Heroes of the Hammond" series, Holloway will no doubt roll up his sleeves and dig into the funky stuff of yore, assisted by outstanding local organist Chris Foreman, dependable drummer Robert Shy, and the inimitable, unpredictable George Freeman on guitar. Saturday, 10 PM, Elbo Room, 2871 N. Lincoln; 312-409-0099 or 773-549-5549. JOHN CORBETT

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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