Charlie Holmes was one of the finest alto-saxophonists of the late 1920's/early 30's period, particularly when he was well featured with Luis Russell's Orchestra. An early associate of both Harry Carney and Johnny Hodges (both of whom were boyhood friends), Holmes was a technically skilled instrumentalist early on, playing oboe with the Boston Civic Symphony Orchestra in 1926. He moved to New York in 1927, had brief stints with Chick Webb, Henri Saparo, Joe Steele and George Howe and then in 1928 first joined Luis Russell. He had second stints with Saparo and Steele before returning to Russell in 1929. During the next three years, Holmes was one of four major soloists (along with Henry "Red" Allen, J.C. Higginbotham and Albert Nicholas) who starred with Luis Russell's impressive orchestra. He next played with Mills Blue Rhythm Band in 1932 and then rejoined Russell shortly before the band became Louis Armstrong's backup group. Leaving Armstrong in 1940, Holmes worked with Bobby Burnet briefly in 1941, was with Cootie Williams' Orchestra (1942-45), worked with the John Kirby Sextet (1947) and Billy Kyle, recorded with Al Sears in 1951 and then left music for nearly 20 years, working at a day jo In his later years, Holmes re-emerged sounding fine in an unchanged style during appearances with Clyde Bernhardt's Harlem Blues & Jazz band (1972-75) and recording with the Swedish band Kustbandet (1975). Charlie Holmes, who was influenced by Johnny Hodges but had his own sound, never led his own record date.
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