BEST SAXOPHONIST (TENOR) Minneapolis 1998 -
When T.S. Monk brought an acclaimed ensemble to the Guthrie Theater last winter to honor the compositions of his father, Thelonious Monk, one of his saxophonists fell ill the day of the gig. After a series of frantic phone calls to unearth a local horn player who could read and adequately play some of the most complex and idiosyncratic tunes in the jazz canon, Monk tabbed Kenny Holman for the assignment. Throughout the evening, Holman played the charts with the requisite verve and agility, to the point that Monk singled him out for a solo on a tune toward the end of the show. When Holman held his own among some of the finest musicians in jazz, Monk nodded to him again during the concert's rousing climax. Holman took off, boosting the already high energy level another notch with a scintillating solo that chased its tail into tighter and tighter circles until resolving itself back into the theme. Many in the audience gave him a standing ovation; saxophonist Bobby Watson and tuba player Howard Johnson were among those who congratulated him when the song was over. But those locals who have made Holman one of the most in-demand musicians for both commercial work and concert activity weren't surprised.