Holman admired, and learned from, the late Gerry Mulligan. Both make extensive use of counterpoint and Holman, like Mulligan, creates charts that are intricate yet light and listenable. There may be a lot going on, but there's always a theme weaving its way through the sections.
Holman respects other musicians. His opener, "Woodrow," applies what he calls "our own stuff" to the Herman theme, "Blue Flame." I can see Woody nodding with appreciation. "Zoot'n'Al" showcases Doug Webb and Ray Herrmann in a tribute to those tenor masters that stresses solo/orchestra interplay rather than conventional backgrounds. The Holman take on "A Day in the Life" captures both the joyful and psychedelic sides of the Beatles as it alternates between swing and impressionism, while Frank Rosolino is remembered with a playful version of his jazz waltz "Blue Daniel." Bird's "Donna Lee" opens with the ensemble as front line, quickly moves to an alternative melody, and features strong contributions by Webb, Christian Jacob on piano and Bob Enevoldsen on valve trombone. Holman surprises us during the arrangement with an interlude that approaches silence.
"The Bebop Love Song" is a beautiful Holman tune that combines romanticism and intensity. Jacob's light touch on fills and solos by Webb and Enevoldsen add to the atmosphere. Then with Holman you expect a touch of humor. "Bary Me Not" is his title for the Bob Efford feature, a powerful collaboration between baritone sax and orchestra. And I'll gladly recommend the easy-going "Press One" as a replacement for what passes as music during telephone holds!
As a musician friend recently said, "Each time I listen to one of Bill Holman's CDs I pick up something that I haven't heard before. If you divide the cost of a CD by the number of times that you listen to it with enjoyment, any of his are a fantastic purchase."