As I am writing this review, it is approaching the middle of November in the Northern Hemisphere, and it is cold. I want to head to a place where it’s a warm, sunny morning, afternoon, or evening, head to the beach, kick back and get myself polluted with the best local liquor there is. The opening track to John L. Holmes‘ The Holmes Stretch (self-released), “La Vita Loquita”, will take you to that kind of locale, but once the glasses are empty and a slight chill is in the air, Holmes and friends (the album is credited to John L. Holmes y los amigos) heat things up with the kind of laid back jazz that go back to a time when jazz guitar was king, and you could create the kind of momentum that only jazz guitarists can create. “Mommentito” has the feel of jazz that I grew up listening to with my uncle in the late 70′s/early 80′s, where the electricity is turned up just at the right level, and Holmes just plays until his heart’s content, while saxophonist Mike Agidius gets the listener to “coast” a bit as everyone loosens up and creates pure sonic butter.
Holmes is originally from nearby Walla Walla, and his love of jazz motivated him to get out into the world and find the music for himself. He could easily come back home and help benefit a winery or two, but his music shouldn’t be limited to the showrooms of Eastern Washington. At times he has that gentle George Benson finger stroke touch that made him world famous, at other times he’s getting intense and finding joy through the power of hesitation. It makes sense when you hear it, he could easily rip it John McLaughlin style but he doesn’t, although you may hear occasional similarities between them too.
Love jazz guitar that’s casually mellow in an ECM sense? Pick up The Holmes Stretch.