Terrence Holder

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One will not find trumpeter Terrence Holder in the jazz record bins, not in terms of the names that are splashed across the fronts of releases. He would certainly never have his own section -- in fact,…
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One will not find trumpeter Terrence Holder in the jazz record bins, not in terms of the names that are splashed across the fronts of releases. He would certainly never have his own section -- in fact, it would be quite possible to go through the entire jazz collection of some shops and find not the slightest mention of him. If, however, a consumer could develop something along the lines of X-ray eyes, being able to see the names who are historically hidden behind the famous artists, then Holder would pop up, again and again. This is simply because so many musical developments are linked to the Kansas City jazz scene, which is where Holder held forth as a bandleader in the '20s and '30s. His groups also ventured as far afield as was economically possible for traveling musicians of that era, assuring Holder's holdings in the fascinating account of territory bands.

The trumpeter first made noise professionally in the early 1920s as part of the rowdy syncopated posse of Alphonse Trent. From there Holder launched his own band, calling it the Dark Clouds of Joy, a conceit that might have seemed like a contradiction to anyone who hadn't gotten a gander at the band. By the end of the '20s, however, Holder had lost his hold on his band membership. They pushed him out of the Ichiban position in favor of the up-and-coming Andy Kirk. The latter player, hired on in Dallas while the Holder group was on tour, should have a bin of his own in any record store with a collection of vintage jazz. Kirk erased the dark out of the combo's name and wound up with Andy Kirk and His Clouds of Joy. He also used the name Andy Kirk and His Twelve Clouds of Joy, inviting confusion with an identically named group which Holder and pianist Jesse Stone assembled following the leadership coup d'etat.

Holder continued to be important in Kansas City during the '30s. Great players such as the hearty tenor saxophonist Buddy Tate worked with him for years. Budd Johnson and Claude Williamson are other notables from Kansas City that held Holder's hand in their early years. The amount of work Holder had relied on began to diminish, however, until he was eventually considered just a part-time player. In the '40s he played in the brass section of the Nat Towles band. The trail leads to, and ends in, Billings, Montana, where Holder apparently became one of the very few jazzmen content to work for an audience covered with a variety of geological residue. The open-pit copper mine in Butte has plenty of room for all the musicians of Holder's stature who, like him, have seemingly vanished. At least he is not the same Terrence Holder who was shot in the mouth by the police in Guyana.