Thursday, January 31, 2013

Joe returns to Melwood Church of the Nazarene - 2/24/13

I am delighted to return to the Melwood Church of the Nazarene, in Upper Marlboro, MD, on Sunday February 24th, and 10:45 am for a concert presentation in their morning service. Honestly, I've lost track of how many times I've performed for Melwood Church, at the invitation of Pastor John Nielson. Grateful for each opportunity.  

Women Helping Women 2013

This year, I will return to (and remain in) a support role that I love to play, as musical director/accompanist for the Garfield Center's annual Women Helping Women benefit concert. This event, which sells out most every year, features all of the local female performers (and a few guys, sometimes) who put on a great show for a great cause. The video above is Melissa McGlynn's performance in 2010 (I had fun with that). You should come, support a worthy effort, enjoy a wonderful evening, and reserve now!  

CD Review - "In the Spirit of Dave McKenna" - All About Jazz

I'm very pleased that C. Michael Bailey; jazz reviewer for agreed to listen to, and share some thoughts about "In the Spirit of Dave McKenna". Here is the review content:

"The late Dave McKenna (1930-2008) belonged to a group of pianists that include Ralph Sutton (1922-2001), Dick Wellstood (1927-1987) and the very much alive Dick Hyman. These are durable, traditional jazz pianists, well-versed in stride, with enormous genre and technical vocabularies. McKenna recorded many enjoyable discs for the Concord and Arbors labels anddeserves the acknowledgement Joe Holt gives him on In The Spirit of Dave McKenna.
Holt, a native of Chestertown, MD, is a music educator and therapist. His approach is reverent without rank imitation. On "C Jam Blues," Holt demonstrates a sure left hand, like McKenna's, walking all over the place. Holt enjoys peppering his performances with quotes from other music, deftly interpolating a bit of Jeremiah Clark's Trumpet Voluntary into "Pick Yourself Up" while seasoning "Sweet Georgia Brown" with a heap o' blues. "These Foolish Things" demonstrates Holt's command of the ballad, while a lengthy "Fly Me To The Moon" extracts all of that composition's counterpoint in a waltz setting.
But, it is the up-tempo burners like "C Jam Blues," the slow simmering "Hello My Baby" and novelty tunes including "Easter Parade" that show Holt's—and by extension McKenna's—deep talent for both song selection and interpretation. This is jazz music that will never go out of fashion because of its secure place in the mainstream. Holt reveals his talent as thoughtfully as he treats the musical corpus of this homage's object.
Track Listing: I've Got Rhythm; Pick Yourself Up; Ain't Misbehavin'; Sweet Georgia Brown; These Foolish Things; C Jam Blues; Hello My Baby; Fly Me to the Moon; Tenderly; Nice Work If You Can Get It; Surrey With the Fringe On Top; S'wonderful; Easter Parade; Where Is Love?; Get Me to the Church On Time."
Though, at this point, I'm seeing all that has fallen short in my performance, and am focsed on raising the bar in the next release, it is gratifying to see that this effort is, indeed, making the statement I intended.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"In the Spirit of Dave McKenna" CD review - Chestertown Spy

The first review is in on my latest CD release: "In the Spirit of Dave McKenna". It recently came on line in the Chestertown Spy (our local e-newspaper). This actually was a bit of a dance for the publication, as I am now writing CD reviews for them. For my project, the Spy tapped Jeff Davis (one of their contributing writers). who kindly wrote:

 Music is one of the universal languages. Most languages include a developed vocabulary to convey information and express ideas. A good vocabulary thickens the plot to the story teller’s yarn. Jazz pianist Joe Holt’s latest solo release, “In the Spirit of Dave McKenna” is a pleasing plethora of usage and depth of that vocabulary, to which Joe masterfully adds a couple words of his own.
Admittedly, even though I am an avid listener of jazz, I am not overly familiar with the work of Dave McKenna, to whom Joe attributes his inspiration for this release. In hearing McKenna for the first time as a teenager, Holt recalls, “I remember the performance vividly. It was one of those moments in life when I grew in understanding what was possible.”
As the title implies “In the Spirit of…” is brimming with clever left-hand walking-bass lines, rhythmic play, and chord changes reminiscent of McKenna’s solo jazz-piano style. However, the story told through these fifteen standards is pure Joe Holt. There is a comforting familiarity surrounding each tune, which gives way effortlessly to Joe’s sweeping sensibility of the jazz vocabulary of both past and present times. Holt weaves a playful tale indeed… there is plot, there is action, there is comic relief, some sentimentality, but mostly there is the evidence of an incredible inner dialog happening as Joe transcends the possibilities from popular tune to improvisational music. Joe is taking us on a magnificent journey here.
You may find yourself reminiscing as you listen; recalling impressions you have of these works, but not getting lost in their nostalgia as Joe’s musical expression elevates — giving new meaning to each tune. (Which is a very good thing as this listener believes nostalgia, no matter how sweet, is merely a distraction from seizing the moment.)
“In the Spirit of Dave McKenna” opens with a wonderfully uplifting and spirited interpretation of the Gershwin tune “I’ve got Rhythm,” which sets the pace for the rest of the journey. You can learn more about Joe and his other releases, or give a listen. (Link to:

See the actual review here: