Ron Holloway

Struttin'

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Although Ron Holloway's second album contains fewer original compositions than his debut (only one, the wiry, Indian-influenced funk "Cobra," as opposed to three), it's actually a more original and compelling album. Released in 1994, Slanted often sounded like a tribute album to Holloway's idols and influences, but the following year's Struttin' is much more relaxed and expansive; Holloway's own style, a wide-ranging mix of gutbucket funk and bop cool, is much more in evidence on this selection of standards and newer compositions. The opening "Amazon River" sets the tone with its mellow, percussion-led groove, over which Holloway trades choruses with pianist Kenny Barron. Barron is the album's MVP, also featured to excellent effect on the duet "Where Are You" and the Harold Arlen standard "Come Rain or Come Shine." The album ranges from the Latin crackle of an Afro-Cuban-influenced take on Gene Ammons' "Jungle Strut" (featuring a wicked organ solo by Lonnie Liston Smith) to a simply gorgeous pair of ballads, Tadd Dameron's "Soultrane" and George Gershwin's "How Long Has This Been Going On," but Holloway's full-bodied tone and playful improvisational sense anchor them all. Far better than the tentative Slanted, Struttin' is Ron Holloway's breakthrough album.

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