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Bill Holman


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Bill Holman (born May 21, 1927) is an American songwriter, conductor, composer/arranger, and saxophonist working primarily in the jazz idiom.

Born Willis Leonard Holman in Olive, California, near Santa Ana, Holman took up clarinet in junior high school and tenor saxophone in high school. By his late teenage years he was leading his own band. After serving in the United States Navy, where he studied engineering, he decided in the late ’40s that he wanted to write big band music. He studied for a while at the Westlake College of Music in Los Angeles. His teachers included Dave Robertson and Dr. Alfred Sendrey. He also studied composition privately with Russ Garcia and saxophone with Lloyd Reese.

Holman played with the Ike Carpenter Band in 1949. During the ’50s he was active in the West Coast jazz movement, playing in small bands led by Shorty Rogers and Shelly Manne. He wrote for Charlie Barnet in 1951; began his association with Stan Kenton in 1952, for whom he wrote and played for many years, eventually becoming Kenton’s chief arranger and creating a large portion of the band’s 1950s repertoire; and co-leading a quintet with Mel Lewis in 1958.

In the ’60s Holman widened his writing associations, eventually contributing pieces to libraries and recordings of bands led by Louie Bellson, Count Basie, Terry Gibbs, Woody Herman, Bob Brookmeyer, Buddy Rich, Gerry Mulligan, Doc Severinsen, and others.

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