Audio continues on the leading edge of modern jazz-fusion instrumental
albums with a 2018 CD release entitled Visions: Coast To Coast
Connection, from jazz-rock drummer Bob Holz.
The ten-track album features a stunning cross-section of instrumental
jazz-based sounds and theres also a vocal track on the album
that further showcases the diversity of Bob's music. Dedicated to
the memory of Larry Coryell, Alphonse Mouzon and Mignon Holz, the
album features a number of renowned guest players, including Stanley
Clarke, who adds in his patented jazzy bass, Frank Stepanek
(co-writer, guitar, bass, keys) Randy Brecker (trumpet),
Alex Machacek (guitar), vocalist Dave Porter and many
more. Its very hard to pick out the best tracks as they all
have something to say but Richies Track, (dedicated
to the late drummer Richie Hayward), simply sparkles with a spectacular
sounding fusion workout. Speaking to mwe3.com about the title of his
new album Bob Holz explains, "The new album title signifies
the trilogy of my last three releases which all reference the concept
of forward thinking as it applies to my vision of the world. I recorded
the material in Los Angeles and finished the project in the Florida
Keys. Hence the Coast to Coast add-on." One of the top jazz-fusion
drummers who has played with the biggest names on the music scene,
including the late, great jazz guitarist Larry Coryell, Bob Holz also
proves his worth as a composer, drumming ace and band leader on the
upbeat, instrumental jazz-fusion sound of Visions: Coast To Coast
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Bob, can you tell us where youre from originally, and where
you live now and what you like best about it? What cities and countries
are among your favorites to visit and perform in and would you agree
that the best part about being a musician getting to see so much of
the world in a musical way?
Bob Holz: I hail from Syracuse, New York. I presently live
in Fayetteville, New York. I like the small city feel and theres
a good music scene. I like playing in Washington D.C. They love jazz
there and really support live music. Its great to meet new friends
who appreciate what we do. Last year when we played in Los Angeles
I met a lot of great musicians as well. Youre exactly correct
in that traveling exposes one to many types of music scenes.
mwe3: When did you start playing drums and how long have you
been a performing musician? I know you attended Berklee. What other
instruments do you play and did you study harmony and music theory
as it relates to other instruments, like keyboards? It must have been
amazing studying with Billy Cobham!
Bob Holz: I started at ten years old. Ive been playing
professional gigs for 47 years. Beyond drums, I also play guitar,
bass, keyboards, clarinet and the vibraphone. Yes, I have studied
jazz harmony and composition. Billy Cobham was big on developing independence
on the drums. He focused on four way coordination and ambidexterity.
mwe3: I saw on the CD booklet that you endorse Canopus drums
and Paiste cymbals. What makes those companies special sound-wise
regarding your choice of drums and what other kits have you played
in the past?
Bob Holz: I use Paiste Formula 602 Modern Essentials cymbals,
which I think are versatile. They sound amazing in any style and environment.
They are also durable. Canopus drums have excellent tonal qualities.
I use a typical fusion configuration consisting of 10, 12,
14 and 16 toms a 14 wooden snare drum and a 22
On my new album, the sound engineer, Dennis Moody was looking for
a unique drum sound, which could become my signature sound. If you
listen to the end of the tune Espresso Addiction you will
hear what I mean. He achieved a very natural and organic drum sound
thanks to Canopus and the way we tuned those drums. Dennis really
got the sound I wanted. Hes well known for that as hes
recorded many great drummers like Steve Gadd and Dave Weckl.
for past equipment, I played Yamaha Recording Custom drums and Istanbul
cymbals for many years. Both great companies. But change is good and
I think Ive zeroed in on my own personal sound with Canopus
mwe3: Your new album is called Visions: Coast To Coast Connection.
What does the album title signify? Is it the New York to L.A.
connection youre talking about and how would you compare the
energy between NYC and L.A.? Have you thought about those differences?
Bob Holz: The new album title signifies the trilogy of my last
three releases which all reference the concept of forward thinking
as it applies to my vision of the world. I recorded the material in
Los Angeles and finished the project in the Florida Keys. Hence the
Coast to Coast add-on.
I think New York and Los Angeles both have their own unique sound
or vibe if you will when it comes to making records. My new album
definitely displays that on tunes like West Coast Blues and
Light And Dark. The sound is laced with that famous California
sound. To me New York jazz is about experimenting and stretching out,
whereas the West Coast approach does that too but packages it into
a more universally popular end product.
mwe3: The vocal track on the new album, Espresso Addiction,
is dedicated to Larry Coryell, who passed away just over a year ago.
What are the some of the lyrics in that song speaking of and how did
you meet Larry and what year? I remember his late 1970's albums and
also when he worked with Phillip Catherine too. How many albums did
you make with Larry and what was he like in a concert setting?
Holz: I wrote the lyrics to "Espresso Addiction" quickly
and with ease. The words just came to me easily. It is a tune in which
not only the lyrics pay tribute, but the chord voicing are similar
one Larry had used on his composition Low Lee Tah. The
title stems from Larry insisting that we stop for a double shot of
espresso before we played Mac's Bad Art Bar in Syracuse. Like myself,
Larry gave up alcohol many years ago. Larry was also very much into
the blues. It was important to get that into the lyrics, there by
creating a double meaning surrounding his passing away and his love
for blues music.
met Larry in 2015 through a mutual friend we both had from my days
at Berklee College of Music. I have released two albums with Larry
on them. My next album most likely will feature live concert recordings
I did with him as well. Theres some wonderful music that needs
to be released. Playing live with Larry Coryell was exciting and demanding.
But our styles meshed perfectly as is exemplified on the tune Scattered,
off my album Visions and Friends.
mwe3: When was the Visions album recorded and what was
the studio set-up like? For example, were there lots of overdubbing
or was most of it cut live? You worked with studio ace Dennis Moody
on the making of Visions. What did Dennis bring to the sound
and the overall vibe of the album?
Bob Holz: Visions: Coast to Coast Connection was recorded
in September 2017. The studio was Dennis Moody Studios. The set up
centered around a live recording approach with minimal overdubs. There
was very little editing done and we didnt use a click track.
Its a natural process where the players are in the same room
together and can feed off each others ideas and timing.
As mentioned before: Dennis is known for his work with drummers. Hes
also a lot of fun to be around. The session was relaxed yet totally
focused, efficient in use of time and designed to find the sound I
was looking for. Dennis is a master at mixing as well. Additionally
he was a drummer in the past. He brings that understanding of what
good feel and timing is to the overall sound.
Tell us about working with the great Stanley Clark of Return To Forever
fame. When did you first hear Stanleys music, when and where
did you first meet him and what are some of his best albums in your
estimation? What did Stanley most bring to the tracks he played on?
Holz: The first time was on Chick Coreas Light As A Feather
in the early 1970s. I met Stanley when we recorded my new album.
I love his School Days album with Tony Williams on drums. The
solo Stanley plays on the tune Next In Line is eloquent,
flowing and epic. Hes one of the all time greats. It was wonderful
having him and our amazing bassist Ralphe Armstrong record together
for the first despite the fact that they have been friends for many
mwe3: How did you meet producer Rob Stathis and can you describe
Robs approach in the studio and also the influence or sound
he brought to the albums you made with Larry Coryell? Did Rob also
work with Larry?
Bob Holz: Rob and I have been friends since the late 1970s.
We met through the bassist Mike Schoeffter who appeared on my Visions
And Friends album. Rob comes out of the jazz-fusion world. He
is interested in delivering the highest quality music and tends to
stray from smooth jazz.
Rob thinks big picture. Hes great a honing in on
the bands strengths and bringing out our best performance. He
also understands how to multitask effectively. One minute hes
at the board and the next minute hes feeding the band Chinese
food! Rob is a huge fan of Larry. They naturally became good friends
working together. Like everyone else, we really miss Larry.
mwe3: One of the highlights of Visions is the track
Richies Trip. How did you hear of Richie Hayward
drummer of Little Feat and what are your favorite Little Feat albums
or tracks? That track sounds very orchestral, like progressive rock
Bob Holz: For that tune I emulated Richie Hayward's beat to
the Little Feat song Time Loves A Hero. I love that tune.
Anything off their Waiting For Columbus is a favorite of mine.
The drumming is very unique. I first head Little Feat in the late
mwe3: How did you meet your co-writer Frank Stepanek and whats
the song writing process like between you and Frank and how do you
decide on the arrangements and the sound of the track? For example,
track 9 on Visions, Spanish Plains has a great
flamenco groove. What can you say about that track? I see Frank worked
on that track in NYC.
Holz: I met Frank when I played a gig with his solo act in the
mid 1990s. We have become great friends and still play live
and record together. His main gig is with the reggae band Black Uhuru.
Hes been their guitarist for thirty years and tours worldwide
with them. He has been nominated for three Grammy awards from the
album Brutal. When we decide to record we typically lay down
the bass and drums first and the build from that.
Frank has a very good ear and is making world class recordings at
his home studio in central New York. Frank wrote Spanish Plains
to feature his trademark acoustic guitar sound. People all over the
world are really liking the song. The tune exemplifies Franks
Besides Larry, you dedicate the Visions CD to Mignon Holz and
Alphonse Mouzon too. What do they represent to you? Is Mignon family?
Alphonse is a legend right of fusion. I know he passed away recently
too... Were you friends with Alphonse?
Bob Holz: 2017 was a year of loss. Last May I lost my mother,
Mignon Holz, who was always a huge supporter of my music. The list
of important musicians who passed away in 2017 staggering.
Alphonse Mouzon was the drummer in Larry Coryell's Eleventh House.
He is considered one of the greatest jazz-fusion drummers and was
the original drummer in Weather Report. Alphonse passed away from
a rare cancer on Christmas day of 2016. Before his death we became
friends through my association with Larry.
mwe3: Do you feel that fusion jazz sometimes veers into other
realms like progressive rock-fusion? Im thinking of prog-rock
drummers like Bill Bruford, founding drummer of YES who went solo
with some very jazz based musicians like Alan Holdsworth. So, where
does jazz end and jazz-rock begin?
Bob Holz: Yes, Id agree with that statement. I love all
the classic progressive rock. That music was a big influence on me.
In my opinion jazz ends when you remove jazz phrasing, blues phrasing
and typical jazz harmonic structures from the music. Theres
a universal vocabulary and tradition surrounding jazz. Larry always
said, Rock the jazz. When you combine rock sounds with
jazz sounds you get a wonderful new sound. Bands like Mahavishnu Orchestra
are perfect examples of this phenomenon.
mwe3: Interesting that the Visions album came out on
MVD. I hope MVD moves further into your music and fusion in general.
How did that deal come about? MVD is very into DVD so I hope you will
have a DVD with MVD at some point. Be great to have a Visions live
Holz: I was introduced to MVD Audio by one of my publicists, Bruce
Pilato of Pilato Entertainment. I am shooting a video at our concert
in Detroit the June. That will be aired on Comcast via The Ralphe
Armstrong Show. I also have extensive live footage from our show at
Catalina Jazz club in Hollywood last May which may be used to issue
a DVD in the future.
mwe3: With Visions on CD from MVD I hope more people
are going to hear your music. Who is playing in your touring band
that you feature in concerts and what are your shows like live? Where
do you plan on performing this year and are you planning on releasing
other albums in the future or doing sessions or producing / writing
with other artists?
Bob Holz: The touring band is called Bob Holz and A Vision
Forward. Its me on drums, Ralphe Armstrong on bass, Jamie Glaser
on guitar and Billy Steinway on keyboards. Our shows are more than
playing a lot of notes. We are entertainers so song selection, vocals
and rapport with the audience is key. We want the crowd to have fun
but still satisfy the most astute jazz listener. Its a fine
line. But we achieve it naturally and is seems to just flow out of
Our next show is June 22nd, 2018 at Bert's Entertainment Complex in
Detroit, Michigan. Im in the Pre-planing stage for my next album
due out in 2019. I cant say for sure whos going to be
on it. But were working on getting some huge jazz stars to join
us on the record.