Drummer and percussionist Bob Holz has
formed a new group, whose name inspires the title of their
new release, A Vision Forward (MVD Records, 2016).
Holz is accompanied by a variable lineup comprised of the
following: Larry Coryell, guitar; Mike Stern, guitar; Randy
Brecker, trumpet; Ada Rovatti, sax on “A Vision Forward”;
Billy Steinway, keyboards; Steve Weingart, keyboard solos on
“Shooting Range” and “The Stand Up”; Bob Wolfman, guitar;
John Viavattine Jr., bass on all tracks; Jesse Collins, alto
sax; Tori Higley, vocals; John Viavattine Sr., flute, tenor
sax and soprano sax; and Ethan Wojcik, trombone on “The
“A Vision Forward” is an upbeat groove. A three-instrument
panel leads the bright, sunny melody. Solos are by Brecker,
Rovatti and Steinway. The trumpet is muted in sections. The
song has elements of fusion and funk, moving seamlessly
between the two.
The flute leads the happy-go-lucky “Avalon Canyon.” With
contributions by Wolfman and Collins, this delightful piece
is all about enjoying the moment. A little strut here and
there doesn’t hurt.
“Shared Sunsets” is a moderately paced song. Wolfman’s
guitar shares the lead with Steinway, augmented by Higley’s
haunting, wordless chant. Steinway and Viavattine Jr., the
only players besides Holz who appear on all tracks, get
their licks in. Collins steps in during the middle
interlude, putting the alto through some vibrant tones. It’s
a beautiful soundscape that inspires visuals of a colorful
evening sky. As the song winds down, Wolfman puts the
strings through some blistering rolls.
Holz allows the Vision Forward members to do most of the
talking on this record. He plays mostly in the background,
though very prominent in his varied use of the kit and other
instruments at his disposal. Instead of a dominant leaders,
it’s the combination of expert song selection, the dynamics
of a group and the individual contributions of the various
soloists that make A Vision Forward work.