In the Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz, renowned jazz critic Ira Gitler describes Ron as “a bear-down-hard-bopper who can blow authentic R&B, and croon a ballad with warm, blue feeling.” While true, this only begins to touch upon the versatility of the tenor saxophonist. Tenor sax giant, Sonny Rollins said of Holloway; “Ron is a very fine saxophone player. Not only is he very dedicated and intelligent, he’s got his own original approach. He doesn’t sound like all the other guys, and that’s saying a whole lot. I feel good that my legacy is in the hands of Ron and people like him. It’s very gratifying.” Ron began making his mark on the Washington, D.C. music scene in the early 1970’s. A key element in his development was “sitting in” with all types of groups, covering multiple genres. Eventually, Ron felt the need for greater challenges. In the summer of 1974, he sat-in with trumpet great, Freddie Hubbard for the first time. The next year, 1975, saw Ron sharing the stage with his friend and mentor, Sonny Rollins. 1977 proved to be a pivotal year for the young Holloway. It was in this year that Ron met, and sat-in with Dizzy Gillespie. During their first meeting, Dizzy listened attentively to a tape recording of Ron sitting in with Sonny Rollins at Howard University. After hearing Ron’s solo, Gillespie whirled around in his chair and asked “you got your horn?” The young saxophonist answered “No sir, I didn’t want to appear presumptuous.” Dizzy responded “Presumptuous? Now there’s a word!” The two of them burst out laughing! Ron played the next night, and finished out the week with Gillespie. Dizzy extended an open invitation to Ron, inviting him to sit-in anytime! Little did the saxophonist realize he would one day join the legendary trumpeters band! Another fateful milestone in Ron’s career took place in 1977. He met alternative rocker, Foster MacKenzie III, aka Rootboy Slim. Rootboy’s music was by no means jazz, but it gave Ron plenty of freedom to develop his improvisational skills. Holloway would be an active member of Slim’s band from 1977 to 1987. Ron’s tenure with Rootboy’s band overlapped with his involvement with a couple of other groups. “I began performing with a funk band called Osiris, which was named after it’s lead singer, Osiris Marsh. I played in that group from 1979 to 1981. In February of 1982, I played my first concert with Gil Scott-Heron at the Bottom Line, in New York City.” Ron was an active member of Scott-Heron’s band from February of 1982 until June, 1989. Though he was a member of Scott-Heron’s band during this period, Ron continued to appear with Dizzy whenever the trumpeter came to D.C. “In June of ‘89, while sitting in with Dizzy at Blues Alley, Dizzy’s manager told me Dizzy wants to see you in the dressing room. I went upstairs and Dizzy told me he needed a regular saxophone player, and asked me if I’d like to join his group! I responded with a question: When do I start?” I think you already have was Dizzy’s reply. Ron toured the world, performing for kings and dignitaries, and appeared with Dizzy on the Johnny Carson and Arsenio Hall television shows. He also recorded 2 CD’s with Dizzy. Ron was a member of Gillespie’s final quintet, until Dizzy’s passing on January 6th,1993. Holloway has released 5 CD’s under his own name: “Slanted” -( 1993 ) …”Struttin’” -( 1995 )…”Scorcher” -( 1996 )…and “Groove Update” -( 1998 ) are on the Fantasy/Milestone label. In March of last year, Ron released his 5th CD on the Jazzmont label, entitled “Ron Holloway & Friends Live at Montpelier” -( 2003 ). Ron is the proud recipient of no less than forty-two Washington Area Music Awards. (Two of them for Musician of the Year.) Recently asked about his goals, Holloway answered “Among the many things I would like to accomplish, is to reflect the entire history of the tenor saxophone in my playing. The saxophone is a relatively young instrument, but what an illustrious legacy it already has. There’s much to be done!”
Edited by kmbuchamushroom on 23 Jan 2007, 00:57
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