Adam Holzman was always going to have a life in music. He had no choice. Holzman’s father, music business icon Jac Holzman, was the founder of one of the hippest record labels of the 1960s, Elektra, and was more than happy to have his son hang out at Doors rehearsals, meet Arthur Lee & Love and take in gigs by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
By the time he was in elementary school, Holzman was already a keyboardist, one whose early exposure to ’60s psychedelic music had led to an obsession with the songcraft of the Beatles, a love for the emerging progressive rock prowess of bands like Yes and ELP, and finally, to jazz, via the genre-busting work of artists like the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters and Tony Williams Lifetime.
In many ways, Holzman is the ultimate representative of jazz-rock fusion, in the non-pejorative sense of the term. He started out as a rock musician, but full immersion in the possibilities of rock during an era when it was at its most ambitious and was routinely battering down perceived divides between idioms led him to dig deeper and deeper into 20th century music, ultimately arriving at jazz in a roundabout manner.
Holzman became one of late jazz iconoclast Miles Davis’ most trusted confidants in the final period of his performing life. Grabbed by Davis for touring and recording in 1985, Holzman earned a spot as musical director in a Davis band that also included renowned saxophonist Kenny Garrett. It was a frankly smokin’ band ably represented by the recording “Live Around the World.” (I was lucky enough to catch this band in 1989 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. It’s a show I’ll never forget, principally for the playing of Holzman and Garrett.)
While the Steven Wilson Band is on break from recording, Holzman has taken to the road for a series of club gigs where he is offering a tour through what surely has to be one of the more interesting, eclectic and consistently rewarding musical careers of the past 40 years.
We’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to catch Holzman performing a solo show at 8 p.m. Friday in the intimate Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar (253 Allen St.). Opening the show will be Buffalo’s Random Order, a collective of renowned area progressive musicians largely dedicated to the music of King Crimson. Random Order will be favoring King Crimson’s “Red” and “USA” albums during Friday’s opening set.