Bill Holman, whose on-again-off-again orchestra had a chance to display itself Monday evening at Catalina, is a master of the art of contradictions.
A Holman composition can make dissonance seem consonant, chaos sound logical. When arranging works by others, an insignificant tune ("Moon of Manakoora") becomes significant, pop-pap becomes classy jazz.
A commanding orchestrator whose work has embellished the bands of Kenton, Herman and others long gone, Holman is fortunate that he can now call on his own pool of first-rate Southland musicians. The teamwork is so admirable, you'd think these men worked together consistently instead of about once a month.
Most of the veterans are soloists. He has the perennially extroverted Bob Cooper on tenor sax, the lyrical Steve Huffsteter on trumpet, the distinctive Bob Enevoldsen on valve trombone.
Whether the vehicle is a quirky original like "No Joy in Mudville" or a reworking of Thelonious Monk's ballad "Ruby My Dear," the charts interweave rich textures with spirited solos.
Once well known as a tenor saxophonist, Holman did not play during the show.
Except for beating out the tempos and cutting off the ends, he had no need--and, in fact, no room in this confined space--to do any real conducting. He simply let these eminently qualified artists interpret his music in their own sympathetic way.
Underpinning it all was a rhythm section with Rich Eames on piano, Bruce Lett on bass and John Perett on drums.