Christopher Hollyday’s “Telepathy” released today; first recording in decades

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Jazz fans who have awaited Christopher Hollyday’s return, wait no more. The alto saxophonist is back with an inspired collection of revved up jazz pieces that play with tempo and rhythm. The album has a quality of having been unearthed. Each song has its own particular delights and fun aspects, even when the general tempo is lowered, and soft-shoe drumming sets the pace.

There really is a feeling of having “discovered” something when this recording begins to play. Even if the songs are covers, or tributes, it is Hollyday’s treatment of them that will make them new to even veteran jazz audiences.

Of particular interest on “Telepathy” are “One Of Another Kind” and “Segment.”

About Christopher Hollyday

Like a number of talented jazz artists, Hollyday was a precocious learner. He began playing alto saxophone, the instrument he is associated with, when he was nine years old. By 13, he was advanced enough to play in his brother’s Boston-area quintet. Two years later, he was a band leader in his own right, and began recording. The recording experiences of his teenage years resulted in Hollyday recording three albums for small labels. Each recording featured either John Medeski or Cedar Walton on piano. Hollyday also toured with Maynard Ferguson and was on Ferguson’s “Big Bop Nouveau” album. A recording stint that lasted from 1988 to 1991, resulted in three records with a quartet, and earned Hollyday the distinction of being considered a “Young Lion” of the period.

It would be a cross country tour with his group that would introduce Hollyday to teaching. The experience with teaching clinics in schools lead to Hollyday studying at the Berklee College of Music. In 1996, he moved to San Diego where he has been teaching jazz ever since. Hollyday works as a private teacher after having been a band director for 20 years.

“Telepathy” is Hollyday’s return to recording. The album demonstrates that his talent has grown over the years, and that he is ready for a new phase of recording inspired jazz.

“One Of Another Kind”

The song is a cover of Freddie Hubbard’s original. The version presented by Hollyday begins with a thoughtful meditation of trumpet, with drums shimmering in the background.  Then the mood shifts and the tempo picks up. The drums become more present and the horns play a different motif. Suddenly around the minute and a half mark, the song kicks into a frenzied pace. The exuberance of trumpet and saxophone might remind some audiences of the kind of jazz that was the contemporary of the Beat Generation.

“Segment” by Christopher Hollyday

Again, Hollyday and his ensemble take a jazz standard and run up the tempo. The song engages listeners with rhythmic vamping at the beginning and end. A version of the Charlie Parker classic, “Segment” in the hands of Hollyday and company signals its sections by inserting a horn commentary of sorts, just before the entire ensemble revs up to almost hyper speed. Effective touches include persistent bass and the classic clatter of drums.

Despite an almost 30-year absence, Hollyday sounds as if he is in good form. “Telepathy” is as fun as it is inspired. That Hollyday takes risks with rhythm makes the listeneing that much more fun for the audience who often feel as if they are on a ride that they do not want to end.

On “Telepathy,” Hollyday is joined by Joshua White on piano, Gilbert Castellanos on trumpet, Rob Thorsen on bass and Tyler Kreutel on drums.

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