When Ron Holloway signed with Milestone in the mid-1990s and started to enjoy some national exposure, his supporters in the jazz press tended to think of him as a hard bopper and a Sonny Rollins discipline. But while the Washington, DC tenor saxophonist has been greatly influenced by Rollins and does play a great deal of hard bop, Groove Update reminds us that it would be wrong to call him a jazz purist or think of him as a Rollins clone. In fact, this varied CD finds him using a lot of electric bass and playing his share of foot-tapping soul-jazz (as opposed to fusion or crossover). While so-called purists shouldn't have a problem with his all-acoustic interpretations of Jimmy Heath's "Gingerbread Boy" and the standard "East of the Sun," the saxman clearly isn't catering to purists on Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon" or on a very funky take of Horace Silver's "Psychedelic Sally." Recalling early Peggy Lee, singer Lizabeth Flood has a pleasant cameo on "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?," while R&B/jazz protest singer Gil Scott-Heron is featured on likable remakes of his 1970s classics "We Almost Lost Detroit" and "Three Miles Down." Although Scott-Heron clearly doesn't have the voice he did in the 1970s and early 1980s, he still manages to get his points across. Far from one-dimensional, this is a heartfelt CD that both jazz and R&B lovers should be aware of.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson