The Bill Holmans

Bill Holman, Jazz Musician and Arranger

Bill Holman was born on May 20, 1927 in Olive, California. Holman began playing tenor saxophone and clarinet while still in secondary school, and decided to study music in Los Angeles at the Westlake College of Music in the late 1940s. Holman quickly caught a break, and in 1950 and '51 played with Charlie Barnet. He met Gene Rowland, an arranger for Stan Kenton, and Rowland got him an audition with Kenton as a sax player.

In 1952, Holman joined Kenton's band, where he would begin to write and arrange for Kenton's band. By 1954, Holman was churning out so much of Kenton's material that he stopped playing to devote himself as a full-time writer/arranger. Holman also wrote for many jazz artists of the time, such as Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson, Count Basie, and Buddy Rich.

Holman continued arranging throughout the '60s, but he also played in smaller combos around the West Coast. He recorded a few albums around this time, and since few were produced they are now quite rare.

Holman's arranging drifted from big band to mostly studio arrangments in the 1960s and '70s, and studio arranging would remain Holman's priority for almost 30 years. He would arrange for Peggy Lee, The Fifth Dimension, and Natalie Cole's 1991 smash, Unforgettable.

Holman did keep a part-time big band in the Los Angeles area, however, and in the mid to late '80s he decided to record as a big band again. He released two albums in the '80s, and continues recording in the '90s, in which he has recorded three albums. Sadly, most of Holman's recordings are relatively rare. The two best modern Holman albums will cost you - both Brilliant Corners and A View From the Other Side are tough to find for less than $30.

Holman's brilliant style of contemporary jazz - linear and flowing, yet grounded in traditional elements - will probably be played by jazz bands until jazz itself disappears. Having played Bill Holman arrangements myself, I can attest that they are some of the easiest and most entertaining arrangements to play. Don't confuse easy with overly simple, though - Bill Holman just knows how to do things in a quarter the notes it takes others.


All Music Guide

Bill Holman, Cartoonist

Bill Holman was born in 1903 in Crawfordsville, Indiana. He began studying cartooning under Carl Ed in 1919. He soon got a job with the Chicago Tribune, who, in 1922, ran Holman's first comic, "Billville Birds." This was short-lived, though - the Tribune quickly stopped running the comic. Hoping for a change of luck, he moved to New York, where the Herald Tribune Syndicate ran his new comic, "G. Whizz, Jr." Unfortunately, this, too, was a failure. Holman was forced to sell various cartoons and illustrations to magazines like Collier's and Life.

Holman's luck finally changed in 1935 with his third comic, "Smokey Stover," a screwball comic strip about firemen. It had so much success that the likeness of Smokey was painted on bomber planes in World War II, and the comic's use of the word "foo" sparked the all-purpose usage of the word that remains popular to this day. The strip continued to run throughout the decades, and in 1961, Holman became president of the National Cartoonists Society. Smokey Stover finally quit running in 1973, and on February 27, 1987 Holman died.


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