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Holdsworth/Pasqua/Haslip/Wackerman: Blues for Tony CD Review

by October 17, 2014
Blues for Tony

Blues for Tony

Label: MoonJune Records (MJR 029) | Buy Now

Track List

Disc One

1)     Blues for Tony

2)     The Fifth

3)     It Must Be Jazz

4)     Fred

5)     Guitar Intro

6)     Pud Wud

Disc Two

1)     Looking Glass

2)     To Jaki, George, and Thad

3)     San Michele

4)     Protocosmos

5)     Red Alert



What do you get when you put four musical masters in front of a live audience? Blues for Tony! This electric two disc set was culled from the best performances across a Fall 2006 tour to simulate an entire evening's worth of material. The tour was basically a tribute to the New Tony Williams Lifetime--assembled by the late, great (ex-Miles Davis) drummer Tony Williams in the 1970's--featuring two of the original members of that group: Alan Pasqua (keyboards) and Alan Holdsworth (guitars).

Audio Quality

The ensemble playing is only surpassed by the excellent solos (all instruments) scattered across this musical set. There are so many outrageous guitar solos that I can't even single one out for special mention! My favorite tracks are Blues for Tony and Fred on Disk 1 and the aptly titled Red Alert on Disk 2. I also really like Pud Wud (an old Holdsworth classic) on Disk 1 and Protocosmos on Disk 2. The original studio version of several tracks (like Fred and Protocosmos) can be found on old Tony Williams albums. It takes a great drummer and bass player like Wackerman (ex-Zappa) and Haslip (ex-Yellowjackets) to pull off a samba as smooth as Fred. The shuffle on It Must Be Jazz is an especially hard-driving groove. There are several good drum solos scattered throughout, but the one on San Michele is special in how it goes out--and then back in--time.


The almost ninety minutes of music on this two disc set contains many long-form (~10 minute) arrangements, effectively simulating a one-night show. Drummer Wackerman admirably carries the burden of “replacing” the great Tony Williams with energy, not imitation. Most people identify live recordings with high-energy performances, but what differentiates them for me are the solos. An artist will often over-dub (insert alternate takes) solos on a studio recording for various reasons (musical performance, different sound/instrument, practical logistics, etc.), but in a live setting, what you hear is what you get. Heightened interaction with other members of the group can sometimes create those “magical moments” that are often sought but rarely experienced, as these live performances frequently demonstrate.


  • Audio Quality: 4/5
  • Features (liner notes): 3/5
  • Overall: 4/5

Reference Equipment

  • Yamaha DSP-A1 Natural Sound A/V Amplifier (Stereo Mode)
  • Pioneer Elite CLD-99 Reference LD Player
  • Polk Monitor 10B Speakers (x2)


About the author:
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Stanton was born and raised in Kansas City, where he was exposed to the rich culture of jazz at a very young age. He's a drummer and an electrical engineer and loves to review jazz music for us.

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