RICK HOLLAND PRODUCTIONS PRESS
What the critics are saying!
Scott Yanow, author of ten books including The Jazz Singers, Trumpet Kings, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76
The Rick Holland-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band, which is based in Rochester, New York, was founded in 2005. Co-led by flugelhornist Holland and trombonist Dobbins, the 11 piece group has the sound of a big band despite having eight instead of the usual 11 or 12 horns. Its musicianship is top-notch, soloists are impeccable, and arrangements are both colorful and swinging. The 11 songs heard on Trilby consist of four standards, three originals by harmonica great Hendrik Meurkens, and a song apiece by Kerry Strayer, Hal Crook, Brent Wallarab and pianist Bill Dobbins. The father of Evan Dobbins, Bill Dobbins is the best known musician in the band, contributed six of the arrangements, and is a key soloist on five songs. But enough of the statistics. The Little Big Band swings hard and puts plenty of spirit into each performance. The opener, Benny Golson's “Stablemates,” has fine solos from Holland and the Phil Woods-inspired altoist Doug Stone, with the two battling it out near the tune's finish. Meurkens' “Slidin'” has an arrangement by Bill Dobbins that in its use of restrained tone colors is worthy of Thad Jones. A heated jam on “The Eternal Triangle” gives Holland and tenor-saxophonist Mike Pendowski an opportunity to jam, trade-off and interact with each other. Holland, Doug Stone (this time on clarinet) and trombonist Nick Finzer play lyrically on the melodic “Second Waltz.” David Baron's bass is featured prominently on “The Cottage,” a haunting tune particularly worthy of several listens. “Trilby,” a lengthy exploration of the chord structure of “Alone Together,” has some excellent hard bop flugelhorn from Holland, adventurous soprano from Stone and a memorable spot for Bill Dobbins' piano. Trombonist Dobbins, Pendowski and drummer Rich Thompson are not only well featured on “Fused” but at one point they play as a pianoless bassless trio. Rick Holland is heard at his best on the ballad “My Darling Darlene” and a jazz waltz version of “While We're Young.” David Baron is naturally in the spotlight during bassist Oscar Pettiford's “Tricotism” (along with Nick Finzer and Bill Dobbins) before Trilby closes with its most intense performance on “Rich's Call.” Throughout Trilby, the Rick Holland-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band plays on the level of most better-known ensembles, performing music that is inventive, full of life and fun. Their CD is highly recommended.
BLUE LAKE PUBLIC RADIO
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It began as a Swing Band project, in the winter of 2005, in Oswego, NY, where Rick met Evan Dobbins, and put together a ten-piece swing band, to play occasional concerts, and private parties. Evan was to contract and Rick would be in charge of music when, the band played five, or six-events, and Rick had the idea, they would not only play swing music, but play modern jazz. Thus, ''The Little Big Band'', and ''Uptown Society Orchestra'' were formed.
In 2006, the band released their first disc, entitled “In Times Shadow”, which was a mainstream release on Blue Jazz. It received wide critical acclaim, prompting Ollie Bivins in LA to say: “Rick Holland (Trumpet) and Evan Dobbins (Trombone) lead a group of New York area musicians, who could give the more well-known big bands in New York and Los Angelas a run for their money, and as part of the the Blue jazz label, a label that promotes and distributes jazz musician’s albums. this big band is taking its destiny into it’s own hands rather than wait to be “discovered” by the major labels. More power to this label and all others who do the same. Lovers of Big Band music, especially, will like the Rick Holland-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band’s refreshing recording.”
Doug Collar in East Lansing, Mi said this....''I have just played “In Time’s Shadow” the new CD from the Rick Holland-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band. What a disc! What a sound! What an ensemble! This disc is my top nomination for jazz ensemble release of the year. The arranging is nonpareil and the soloists masterful. The whole package is varied, listenable, and leaves the audience asking for more. Rick Holland and Evan Dobbins have created a musical experience that our listeners will absorb and enjoy.''
After the release of this disc, the band landed their first steady gig at Tasteology, every Monday night. The gig lasted 2 years, as the bands repertoire grew. The band then moved over to the Loving Cup, in Henrietta, New York. They played on Sunday nights, this gig lasted 3 years. This led to the band 2nd recording, “Trilby”, in 2011. Some of the review was just marvelous. For example:
Throughout Trilby, the Rick Holland-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band plays on the level of most better-known ensembles, performing music that is inventive, full of life and fun. Their CD is highly recommended.-Scott Yanow, author of ten books including The Jazz Singers, The LA Times
What a surprise! This band and musicians were unknown to me, but they are absolutely great! For listeners to hear musicians challenge themselves, and be taken along for the ride, records like this are a must! The musicians in the Rick Holland-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band are all reaching the high musical standards realized by playing in this excellent Little Big Band! This music will be featured in my playlists for many months to come. Thank you again for sending this exceptional CD to me.
Peter Kuller - Jazz Presenter Radio Adelaide 101.5 FM, and JPL "Jazz from Down Under".
The liner notes inform us that this ensemble started as a swinging dance band in 2005. Since then, they've evolved into a solid, well-arranged outfit with first rate solos played by intriguing, skilled jazz cats. The feeling I derived from the CD was similar to a classic Blue Note session. You know, several well-written originals that are melodically strong, and a few standards to test the players' chops on familiar material. The co-leaders play flugelhorn and trombone, respectively.
Most of the arrangements come from pianist Bill Dobbins, who allows plenty of room for free-swinging solo work. The familiar vehicles here include Benny Golson's "Stablemates" and Sonny Stitt's "Eternal Triangle." I also spotted a tune called "Rich's Call" by Kerry Strayer, a baritone player of the highest stripe, and a skilled composer and arranger as well. It is interesting to note three compositions from jazz harmonica whiz, Hendrik Meurkens. Perhaps, he has some connection to the band.
Finally, it should be said that this session is directed straight down the middle of the bop highway. Simply an outstanding blowing session on songs that, amazingly enough, sound like songs! Wow! What a Surprise!
George Fendel Jazz Society of Oregon
Since 2011, the band has a new focus. First, it is commissioning the legendary Bill Dobbins, to write sample arrangements from his famous “Evolution of Jazz Piano”, a series of movements based on the tune “All of Me”. Secondly, is breaking in it’s new vocalist, 19 year old sensation, Lindsey Holland. The band currently has over 60 arrangements for her to sing, including selections from Nancy Wilson’s disc with Cannonball Adderley.
Furthermore, we have a Christmas Set now for her to sing, as well as many straight ahead jazz standards. The hope is for this group to record both of these projects sometime in the future.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
The Rick Holland—Evan Dobbins Little Big Band
Five years after a sensational opening act (In Time's Shadow, 2006), trumpeter Rick Holland and trombonist Evan Dobbins have returned for an encore, Trilby, marshaling as before their irrepressible Little Big Band. As was noted of that earlier recording, "the only thing small about [this band] is its numbers." Baritone saxophonist Dean Keller, who shared that chair with Kerry Strayer on Shadow, also returns. The rest of the lineup is brand new, with Evan Dobbins' dad, the well-known educator Bill Dobbins (Eastman School of Music), replacing the splendid pianist John Nyerges.
Besides shining at the keyboard, Bill Dobbins wrote "My Darling Darlene" and arranged half of the album's other ten numbers. Although he doesn't play this time around, Strayer composed "Rich's Call" and arranged Sonny Stitt's "Eternal Triangle" and Oscar Pettiford's "Tricotism," while Brent Wallarab wrote "Trilby" and arranged Benny Golson's "Stablemates." Bill Dobbins' engaging charts brighten three originals by Hendrik Meurkens—"Slidin," "Second Waltz," "The Cottage"—as well as Hal Crook's "Fused" and Alec Wilder's lovely standard, "While We're Young" (a reprise from the band's earlier album).
Holland, who plays flugelhorn exclusively, solos strongly on seven numbers, striking the ball with assurance and perception on every turn at bat. Bill Dobbins ("Slidin," "The Cottage," "Trilby," "Darlene," "Tricotism") amplifies the message, as do Evan Dobbins ("Slidin," "Fused"), Doug Stone (alto on "Stablemates," clarinet on "Second Waltz," soprano on "Trilby" and "While We're Young"), tenor Mike Pendowski ("Eternal Triangle," "Fused," "Rich's Call"), trombonist Nick Finzer ("Second Waltz," "Tricotism"), bassist David Baron ("The Cottage," "Tricotism") and blue-chip drummer Rich Thompson ("Eternal Triangle," "Fused," "Rich's Call"). When they're not having their say, the ensemble is front and center, giving each of the charts its single-minded attention. The result is music that flows easily without miscue.
Trilby marks a second triumph by the Holland / Dobbins Little Big Band, which, as was noted after its debut album, "is more big than little, in every sense of the word." Those who appreciate a tight, swinging band, even if slightly undersized, are sure to admire Trilby.
JAZZ SOCIETY OF OREGON
Review of Trilby
The liner notes inform us that this ensemble started as a swinging dance band in 2005. Since then, they've evolved into a solid, well-arranged outfit with first rate solos played by intriguing, skilled jazz cats. The feeling I derived from the CD was similar to a classic Blue Note session. You know, several well-written originals that are melodically strong, and a few standards to test the players' chops on familiar material. The co-leaders play flugelhorn and trombone, respectively. Most of the arrangements come from pianist Bill Dobbins, who allows plenty of room for free-swinging solo work. The familiar vehicles here include Benny Golson's "Stablemates" and Sonny Stitt's "Eternal Triangle." I also spotted a tune called "Rich's Call" by Kerry Strayer, a baritone player of the highest stripe, and a skilled composer and arranger as well. It is interesting to note three compositions from jazz harmonica whiz, Hendrik Meurkens. Perhaps he has some connection to the band. Finally, it should be said that this session is directed straight down the middle of the bop highway. Simply an outstanding blowing session on songs that, amazingly enough, sound like songs!
All Music Review
The title of this set is an apt one. While much of the music presented by the Rick Holland-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band, it hearkens back -- in terms of its sophistication, confidence and outright jazz literacy, not nostalgically -- to an era when progressive jazz, and big bands (this one numbering 10 pieces) flourished on the scene. This is one sophisticated outfit. Featuring the arrangement and compositional skills of Brent Wallarab, Jim Martin, Bill Dobbins and Kerry Strayer, this band struts out the tradition and make some joyous, complex, and elegant music that reflects its own unique identity. The résumés of all these players are impressive and reflected in the confidence of the date. It opens with "SUNY-Triangle," a Martin composition that works its artful sleight-of-hand over Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Triste." Martin uses the rhythmically complex samba and drapes some tough, knotty twists and turns over it. The intro is a beautiful and raucous wake-up call, while the head of the tune, with its staggered entrances and exits -- including some fine soloing by John Viavattine on tenor and John Nyerges on piano -- give this tune a unique identity. "Creature Comfort" is a beautiful mid-tempo ballad by Wallarab with edgeless yet multi-dimensional dissonances written into its harmonics. It swings beautifully and includes a fine, punchy solo by tenorman Glenn Cashman. Besides the originals, there are some fine readings here as well. There's Wallarab's arrangement of Duke Ellington's "Black and Tan Fantasy" that's a thoroughly modern exercise losing none of Ellington's humor or rhythmic complexity. Likewise, Gerry Mulligan's haunting, wee-hours, "Night Lights," is given expert treatment here by Strayer, and Dean Keller's baritone saxophone playing combines Mulligan's sense of lyric and Ben Webster's sense of time. In Time's Shadow reveals that innovation need not sacrifice accessibility or swing. It is convincing evidence that the big band form is alive, well and full of surprises.
Jan Jezioro, Classical Music Columnist for Artvoice
There was one helluva great set of jazz this evening, when band leader and trumpet player Rick Holland brought nine fabulous musicians to the Pausa Art House including alto sax giant Bobby Militello, tenor sax wizard Andy Weinzler and baritone sax player Dean Keller, along with trumpet players Ron D’Angelo and Mark Filsinger, with trombonists Ken Crane and Brendan Lanighan, with Tom Kasperick on drums and bass player Emiliano Lansky, and with the very young, but very cool Harry Graser on piano. The great, blended horn sound provided a rock-solid ground for the wide-ranging, but sweetly swinging vocals of the young, very gifted Lindsey Holland. Do not ever miss a chance to hear this group in the future!
Rick Holland Uptown Orchestra at Lovin Cup
Frank De Blase, Roch City News
Sometimes it all just falls into place. The setting, the situation, the scene, the tone -- everything is going your way. That describes last night for me. And at the heart of this mid-week Xanadu was the Rick Holland Uptown Orchestra, a modest, brass-centric outfit led by the trumpet-blowing Holland that swung with equal parts effervescence and laid-back cool at Lovin Cup. And come to find out, five of his Hollands regular guys were sidelined, and the holes on the bandstand were plugged with subs --- hired music muscle like Po’ Boy Erik Jacobs on the slide trombone. By the time the Orchestra heaped on a helping of Count Basie, there was nowhere else I wanted to be. I dragged my mom out in the cold for this show and she was thrilled when they stomped on the Savoy. Holland led the affair with a relaxed air, coaxing more than conducting under his porkpie lid. He went around the bandstand numerous times so every cat there got his fair shake, including pianist extraordinaire Bill Dobbins. This is one sweet band, yes, yes