With a career spanning almost 60 years, Red Holloway is still presenting his special brand of sax playing on both the alto and the tenor, as he's equally adept with each horn. Never an innovator, but a rock-solid, quality player, Holloway has shared the stage and/or recording studio with many jazz luminaries, including Sonny Stitt, Milt Jackson, Harold Land, and especially trumpet giant Harry "Sweets" Edison, to name a few. On this album, which documents performances from a 1998 floating jazz festival, Holloway is joined by a group of talented, seasoned jazzmen as they collaborate on over 70 minutes of entertaining music. The live format of the performance brings out the best in these veteran players. Most genres of mainstream jazz are represented on this album. The first cut "Strike up the Band" is an old-fashioned, jam-session romp. Swing comes with "Avalon" and "Phil's Medley." There's some slow, soft ballad playing on "Days of Wine and Roses," making it a highlight of the session. In over 11 minutes, as a group and as soloists, the musicians explore every facet of this tune in-depth. Singer O.C. Smith, who spent time with Count Basie, takes a turn with the lyrics to this classic. On "You Don't Know What Love Is," Holloway takes up the alto for some Sonny Stitt-like balladeering, recalling his youthful association with the great bop saxophonist. Holloway reprises "Honeysuckle Rose" during his long solo. The blues, however, are in no way overlooked. "Mr. Cleanhead's Blues" is given an exhaustive workout, enhanced by a Holloway vocal. Then there's the requisite bossa nova with Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Meditation." Each member of the quintet enjoys plenty of opportunity to stretch out. Junior Mance adds his special kind of piano playing on every cut. Bassist Keter Betts (long associated with Ella Fitzgerald), along with drummer Paul Humphrey, provides the right rhythmic framework. Special recognition goes to Phil Upchurch, whose long, clean guitar lines play a critical role in the success of the album as he adds a blues feeling to each tune. Hear him rake over the blues on "Phil's Medley," and then join Holloway on a rousing give and take on "Avalon." Standing Room Only is a satisfying musical jaunt by long-standing members of the jazz fraternity.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan