John L. Holmes y los amigos,
The Holmes Stretch
(independent, 2010)

The Holmes Stretch has 11 wonderful tracks that should draw you in. The only horn players are Dave Glenn on trombone and Mike Agidius on saxes and trumpet, but they give a big band sound to many parts of the CD. Band leader John L. Holmes uses his electric guitar to maximum effect, making his solos fit the different moods of each song. There are also bass, drums, percussion, keyboards and a bit of flute and synthesizer, the latter also played by Holmes.

These are complex, original songs that cannot be absorbed in one listening. It is hard to briefly describe them. Holmes' keyboard player, Michael Friedman, writes about each one on the CD sleeve, listing influences that include mambo, "spy guitar," Celtic, Moorish/West African, "son" "bembe," Andean and even "bop/reggae hybrid."

Using all these influences could result in a mess in lesser hands, and the word "fusion" rightfully makes many listeners wary. But these songs are tightly and thoughtfully arranged, while maintaining an artful sense of lyricism.

The Holmes Stretch has a modern sound, but it is still accessible to any listener. It is especially recommended to those who are tired of uninspired and derivative albums and would like something with a fresh approach in both performance and composition.

music review by
Dave Howell

2 April 2011

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new