Halfway through his fifth decade as a multi-hyphenate entertainer who has released albums and singles that topped the pop charts, performed as an accomplished showman in long-running Las Vegas and Broadway productions, played sidekick to Joan Rivers’ on her late night television show, won an Emmy for his own talk-variety show, and served as a special correspondent on “Entertainment Tonight,” Clint Holmes (www.ClintHolmes.com) gets back to his roots as a jazz singer on his newly-released album, “Rendezvous.” It’s an intimate, personal collection that showcases the silky smooth crooner collaborating with a luminous jazz ensemble that boasts Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jane Monheit, Ledisi, Joey DeFrancesco, Dave Koz, Patti Austin and The Count Basie Orchestra on the set produced by eight-time Grammy winner Gregg Field.
Holmes was introduced to jazz by his father at the Colored Musicians Club of Buffalo at age twelve, an autobiographical, coming-of-age moment recalled on the straight-ahead jazz tune “At The Rendezvous” for which Holmes penned the lyrics. DeFrancesco adds a bluesy Hammond B3 organ to the finger-popping track about falling in love with jazz for the first time. Holmes’ father was an African-American jazz singer and his white British mother was a classically-trained opera singer. Both influences are in evidence throughout the 11-song album that offers a versatile mix of stripped-down modern pop “standards” (“Stop This Train,” “All Of Me,” “Say Something”), timeless songs from the Great American Songbook (“I Loves You Porgy”/”There’s A Boat That’s Leavin’ Soon For New York,” “Every Time We Say Goodbye”), an exotic Latin cut with lyrics by Holmes (“The Perfect Trance”) and theatrical classics (“Maria,” “My Way”). As a whole, the record displays sparsely-produced etchings that allow Holmes to connect and communicate in a cozy setting, often with just a stark piano, acoustic guitar, soprano sax or string section accompaniment. It’s an entertaining listen poignantly rendered by a captivating singer-songwriter who knows how to take listeners on a journey.
When I moved to Las Vegas in 2001, the Strip was in a transition phase. The mega clubs had not taken over, and there were a few headliners that were dominating the scene. One name that always kept popping up was Clint Holmes. At the time, he was regularly performing at Harrah’s. Quite honestly, at that time I was not familiar with him. But over the course of my first year in Vegas, I realized that there were two top dogs on the Las Vegas Strip.
Wayne Newton and Clint Homes.
Fast forward to 2017, and Clint Holmes is still going strong, with his brand of Big Band/Cabaret Jazz. I really appreciate the stylings because Holmes can take any type of song: A pop song, an R&B song, and even a standard composition, and completely make it his own.
A Rendezvous With Clint Holmes
Stop This Train, famously recorded by John Mayer is a case in point. The original is more of an uptempo song. I want to say, it is folk with a helping of pop. Holmes delivers a smoothed out jazzy performance….and that violin! Between that and the piano, this is a lesson on how to arrange a song.
At The Rendezvous is up next, and after listening to the track, I am hoping that the Rendezvous is a club that actually exists. Holmes tells his story so eloquently, that I just want to head out there and listen to the musicianship as they play live.
Dee Dee Bridgewater is featured on I Loves You Porgy/There’s A Boat That’s Leavin’ Soon For New York. I just have one question. Can I get an album of Holmes and Bridgewater duets?
If you have heard any material from Jane Monheit, you know she can really sing those jazz inspired slow jams. She absolutely kills it on Every Time We Say Goodbye, originally made famous by Ella Fitzgerald. All Of Me, the John Legend track, is up next. Holmes is very adept at taking a song that we all know, and presenting it in a way that is completely unique. It actually took me a while to recognize it. That is the sign of good production, better arrangement, and spectacular vocals.
Say Something is an all-star affair. It features Ledisi, and the background vocals are arranged and conducted by Patti Austin. Lyrically, the song is a little heavy, but the mid-tempo beat takes some of the edge off, allowing us to enjoy the performances. If you want some theatrical inspiration, Maria, from West Side Story is up next. It is so great to hear an updated version, and the instrumentation is beautifully produced.
You can never go wrong with a bit of latin flair. A Perfect Trance is all about that guitar, played by Ramon Stagnaro, and it is a nice change of pace. I always say that a good album will offer some ebbs and flows, and so far, it flows wonderfully. The album concludes with Marie and My Way, two uniquely memorable performances, and yes, THAT My Way. In case you didn’t know, the classic song was written by Paul Anka.
What you Leave Behind, which features Dave Koz, takes us to the end. He actually co-wrote the song. If you know Koz’s music, you can totally hear his distinctive groove, even before his signature sax makes an appearance.
Clint Holmes is a true performer, and if you have not experienced the live show, Rendezvous will give you an idea of the versatility of this talent artist.
You can pick up Rendezvous here: