Holler to the Max

Holler to the Max

By Molly Fleming, Staff Writer

One of Rockford area’s most well known jazz women, pianist, vibist and vocalist, Maxine Holler, has now reached Forest City diva status with the release of Maximum Jazz last summer. With the musicianship of Val Eddy on bass and Tom Markin on drums and vocals, also known as “the Maximilians,” this group is a “classic” in the music scene. They’ve paid their proper “dues.”

Presently highlighting Friday and Saturday night entertainment at the Gun Club in Beloit, Wis., Holler’s musical career began in South Bend, Indiana where she played with various jazz groups before marrying drummer Roy Williams. The two promoted themselves with McConkey Music Co., and worked the Midwest to California for three years.

Eventually she found herself playing steadily in Waikiki Beach, Hawaii for four years, before returning to the Midwest after a contact by Artist Corps Of America which led her to gigs in Canada.

Both Holler and the well seasoned Maximilians achieved the Life Time Achievement award at the RAMI ceremony this last year, as well as being members of the Rockford Jazz Society and Jazz Legends of Rockford, who also won the RAMI for best “Traditional Jazz Group.”

Jazz to the Max is a nostalgic review of standards and originals that hail to the more conservative style of jazz from the very early 1960s.

As there are very few female vibists in the Midwest, this is truly a unique album which represent what makes the Midwest creative. Although Holler and her Maximilians don’t get as adventurous as some groups of the contemporary jazz genre, and the soloing and improvisation is limited to standard sequences, the music is tastefully executed. Holler’s voice is mellow and relaxing, with purposefully sultry under tones which tie in well with her playing style. Eddy, on bass, plays in his well-known and steady rhythmic way, while Markin adds a little spice with percussion. Songs like “Satin Doll,” “Georgia” and “I Want To Be Loved” make up this musical revue, bringing the Modern Jazz Quartet to mind.

Holler is celebrating her 16th year at The Gun Club in Beloit, where she can be seen every weekend at 7:30 p.m. Picking up a copy of Maximum Jazz would be a good idea so as to add to the Rockford music collection on everybody’s shelf. The show is free, and the Gun Club is a great place. For more information, you can call The Gun Club and find out about the Maximilians’ upcoming shows at 608/362-9900.

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