The Pulse ran a feature on Rusty Holloway, who will be back in the theater on January 24 with a stellar band, including Alan Wyatt on sax. Follow this link or read it below.
Legendary jazz bassist Rusty Holloway comes to Barking Legs Theater
“Over the years whenever I was asked, ‘How’s the jazz in Knoxville?’—meaning ‘How good is it?’—I would always reply with a smile, ‘Have you heard Rusty Holloway?’” said saxophonist Alan Wyatt.
“From among the old guard in the Knoxville-area jazz scene, there were only a precious few that held the ‘keys to the kingdom’ in my opinion, but none more outlandish or fiercely virtuosic than Rusty Holloway. How he maneuvers effortlessly on such an unwieldy instrument is simply mind-boggling.”
Bassist Rusty Holloway made a name for himself not only as a world-class performer who has shared a stage with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan and Stan Getz but also as an influential educator who is adept in multiple genres, including classical, jazz, swing and bluegrass.
“My pursuit of jazz began in the high school jazz ensemble classroom of Edward Freytag, where I heard everything from Count Basie and Louie Bellson to Chick Corea and the Brecker Brothers,” said Wyatt. “Among his recommendations was to study jazz music at UTK with renowned jazz educator Jerry Coker, who wrote the first jazz improvisation textbook in the 1960s.”
“While a jazz student at UTK, I couldn’t help but feel intimidated around [Holloway], as we all were, knowing that we were nowhere close to his level of skill or ability,” said Wyatt. “But even so, he was a great source of encouragement for me and several others, pushing us to new heights.”
In a distinguished career, Holloway recalled one of his career highlights as being the time he played with Dave Brubeck for his oratorio, “The Light in the Wilderness,” with the UT Concert Choir.
“I got to play and hang with Dave for several days, which was absolutely unbelievable, but the real premium was to meet and hang out with Allan Dawson and Jack Six,” said Holloway, via email. “I ferried them around for the time they were here and hung on every word of wisdom.”
“Years later as I look back on this period of time, those two galvanized everything my teacher, Ed Meyer, was telling me about music, art and life,” said Holloway. “In terms of highlight, Ed was the single largest highlight, because he ultimately prepared me for everything that was to follow.”
“Around the same period, Gary Burton came to town for several days, and I met and hung with Tony Levin, Sam Brown and Bill Goodwin,” said Holloway. “By this time, my quest for music was, in my own mind, right up there with ‘The Odyssey.’”
In New York City, Holloway played extensively with distinguished artists including the Matthew Fries Trio, Eliot Zigmund, Rick Stone, Marvin Stamm, the Scott Reeves/Jay Brandford Tentet with Steve Wilson, John Carlini, and Bob Meyer (in the Voyagers), and he travels throughout the tri-state area for frequent collaborations.
As an instructor, Holloway teaches orchestral and solo bass performance, rhythm section technique and improvisation with a motivic approach for the development of melodies, and he beamingly speaks about his students who have received scholarships at some of the most esteemed music schools in the world, including the Berklee College of Music, the Eastman School of Music and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and others who have gone on to become successful professional players.
“Alan is an incredible player and person. Truly an old soul,” said Holloway about Wyatt. “He is as much Coleman Hawkins as Michael Brecker.”
“Though we’ve been in many professional settings together since [UTK], and enjoyed a close association over the years, I am nonetheless keenly aware of the need to be at the top of my game when I’m on stage with [Holloway],” said Wyatt. “He never fails to bring an intensity that can’t be squelched—the kind of intensity that causes everyone on stage to play better.”