Picks and Pans Review: Reverence

updated 06/06/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/06/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Christopher Hollyday

The temptation is to call this album, recorded a few days after alto saxophonist Hollyday (PEOPLE, May 30) turned 18 in February, one of the most striking debuts since Wynton Marsalis first took aim at a microphone. But Reverence is, in fact, Hollyday's third album, his first having been cut when he was 14. That disc and a second one were issued on a family label, Jazzbeat. They were financed with money Christopher and his trumpet-playing brother, Richard, now 22, earned gigging in Boston-area clubs and with help from their father, Dick, an outdoor-power-equipment salesman and longtime jazz fan. Christopher began playing sax at 9, but it wasn't until he became fascinated with Charlie Parker three years later that his outsize talent began to define itself. His mastery of the saxophone and the language of bebop is astounding. That may be why the prize rhythm section of Cedar Walton (piano), Ron Carter (bass) and Billy Higgins (drums) agreed to back him on Reverence, his first album for a national label, and why they seem to be enjoying doing so. Hollyday's album title seems to refer less to Parker and the '40s than to the hard-bop '50s and such alto titans as Cannonball Adderley and, especially, Jackie McLean. Hollyday has taken McLean's famous bigger-than-alto sound and aggressive attack as a beacon to illuminate his own fleet and visceral readings of Sonny Rollins' Why Don't I?, Bobby Timmons' Moanin', his own Treaty of Jazz and three more tunes (six more on CD). Hollyday's brash, headlong style can leave a listener a bit frayed, but if the young man can integrate his reverence for the past with a contemporary and personal conception—as McLean did—his passion and talent could make for an extended Hollyday picnic. (RBI/ Moss Music)

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