Tune in to the Night Beat on Wednesday, May 15 as we’ll be featuring the music of the composer, arranger, saxophonist, and bandleader Bill Holman who passed away on May 6 at the age of 96.

Nominated for 16 Grammys, he was awarded three. In 2010 he was named an NEA Jazz Master. His arrangement of “Let the Sun Shine In/Aquarius” for the Fifth Dimension in 1970 played a part in it being chosen as Record of the Year by the Grammy Foundation.

Born and raised in California, he briefly attended the University of Colorado (Boulder) in pursuit of an engineering degree. After completing his stint in the military, he found himself back in California and college where, rather than focusing on his engineering studies, he would hang out at various jazz clubs entranced by the music just as he had been as a child listening to the radio.

He studied arranging with Russ Garcia in a college class at first and later as a private student. By the early 1950s, he was writing for and playing as a tenor saxophonist with the Stan Kenton orchestra. The Kenton band would regularly play arrangements by Holman until Stan’s passing in the late 1970s.

Some of the other big bands Bill wrote for include Gerry Mulligan, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson, Count Basie, and Terry Gibbs. His big band recorded briefly in the late 1950s and, after reforming in the mid-1970s, continued performing until the outbreak the of COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.

As a trombonist who played many of Bills’s arrangements, I found them to be some of the most fun to play and best written of any I had the opportunity to perform in college and with bands in Denver such as Joel Kaye’s NeoPhonic Orchestra.

Just as I was finalizing the promo for this week’s show, word came down that alto saxophonist David Sanborn had passed away from prostate cancer at the age of 78. His reach as a musician stretched into so many different genres and media.  His alto was heard on a few pop records in the 1970s including David Bowie’s “Young Americans” and the James Taylor cover of “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You.” Besides his recordings as a leader, he was a member of the Gil Evans Orchestra and the Brecker Brothers and, as many people still recall, was the host of Sunday Night/Night Music which presented a quite diverse selection of musicians. One show included Carlos Santana, Lyle Lovett, Wayne Shorter, and Fontella Bass. Recently David had been hosting his podcast.

In 1975 at Finder’s Records in Bowling Green, Ohio, my college jazz band director David Melle saw me looking at the new (and first) album by David Sanborn.  He said “David Sanborn, huh? Did you know he was an undergrad at the University of Iowa during the time I was a graduate student there? One time he came by my practice room to ask if he could borrow my metronome. I never saw it again”.

Please join me on The Night Beat beginning at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15 as we remember Bill Holman and David Sanborn. I’m digging deep into my music collection and that of the archives of KUVO to create a playlist that I think you’ll enjoy.

Stay connected to KUVO’s programs and our community! Sign up for the Oasis E-News today!

Become a Member

Join the growing family of people who believe that music is essential to our community. Your donation supports the work we do, the programs you count on, and the events you enjoy.

Download the App

Download KUVO's FREE app today! The KUVO Public Radio App allows you to take KUVO's music and news with you anywhere, anytime!