Mike Holober – Balancing Act

Work vs. play. Sharing vs. keeping. Dreams vs. realities. And so on. Pianist Mike Holober says we all have acts to balance. Expressing his personal take on this concept, he presents Balancing Act (Palmetto Records, 2015).

Performing with Holober are Kate McGarry, voice; Marvin Stamm, trumpet and flugelhorn; Dick Oatts, alto and soprano sax, flute; Jason Rigby, tenor sax, clarinet and bass clarinet; Mark Patterson, trombone; John Hebert, bass; and Brian Blade, drums.

McGarry’s whispery scat opens the tranquil “Book of Sighs.” When the musicians join in, she sings Holober’s lyrics with bass and piano responding to her calls. After a few verses, she cedes to the instruments. Oatts is first to delight the ear with a riveting, blistering tour on the alto sax, punctuated by Blade’s dexterity on the kit. As Oatts continues, Patterson joins in with overlapping lines. Stamm and Rigby add fills. Then subtly, Oatts steps back and hands the reigns to Patterson. McGarry signals a transition to the main theme with a wordless chant that matches the phrase played by Holober and Hebert. It’s an engaging piece that has many textures and moods.

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