Major Holley


Major "Mule" Holley (July 10, 1924 in Detroit, Michigan – October 25, 1990 in Maplewood, New Jersey) was an American jazz upright bassist.

Holley attended the prestigious Cass Technical High School. Holley played violin and tuba when young and started playing bass while serving in the Navy. In the latter half of the 1940s he played with Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker, and Ella Fitzgerald; in 1950 he and Oscar Peterson recorded duets, and he also played with Peterson and Charlie Smith as a trio.He was married to Minnie (Millicent) Walton née Aitcheson.

In the mid-1950s he moved to England and worked at the BBC. Upon his return to America he toured with Woody Herman in 1958 and with Al Cohn/Zoot Sims in 1959-60. A prolific studio musician, he played with Duke Ellington in 1964 and with the Kenny Burrell Trio, Coleman Hawkins, Lee Konitz, Roy Eldridge, Michel Legrand, Milt Buckner, Jay McShann and Quincy Jones in the 1960s and 1970s. From 1967 to 1970 he taught at the Berklee College of Music.

Holley was noted for singing along with his arco (bowed) bass solos, a technique Slam Stewart also used. Holley and Stewart recorded together on two albums in the 1970s.


Under his name

  • Mule (recorded 1974, Black & Blue, 1987)
  • Two Big Mice (Black & Blue, 1977) with Slam Stewart
  • Shut Yo' Mouth! (Delos, 1981) with Slam Stewart
  • Major Step (Timeless, 1992) with the Joe Van Enkhuizen Quartet
  • Excuse Me Ludwig (Black & Blue, 1997)
  • Mighty Like A Rose (Black & Blue, 1998) with Rose Murphy

As sideman (partial list)

  • Totti Bergh - Major Blues (Gemini records, 1990)
  • Milt Buckner - Block Chords Parade (Black & Blue, 1974)
  • Kenny Burrell - Bluesin' Around (Columbia, 1962 [1983]), Bluesy Burrell (Moodsville, 1962), Midnight Blue (1963)
  • Jaki Byard - Family Man (Muse, 1978)
  • The Good Neighbors Jazz (Columbia, 1958) with Moacyr Peixoto, Case (José Ferreira Godinho Filho), Jimmy Campbell
  • Los Grandes Del Jazz (Sarpe, 1982) with Ray Bryant, Panama Francis
  • Johnny Guarnieri - Johnny Guarnieri Originals (1979)
  • Coleman Hawkins - Hawkins! Eldridge! Hodges! Alive! At the Village Gate! (Verve, 1962), Hawkins! Alive! At the Village Gate(Verve 1962), Good Old Broadway (Moodsville, 1962), The Jazz Version of No Strings (Moodsville, 1962), Coleman Hawkins Plays Make Someone Happy from Do Re Mi (Moodsville, 1962), Desafinado (Impulse!, 1962), Back in Bean's Bag (Columbia, 1963) – with Clark Terry
  • Highlights In Jazz - Anniversary Concert (Stash, 1985)
  • Milt Jackson - For Someone I Love (Riverside, 1963)
  • Quincy Jones - Quincy Jones Explores the Music of Henry Mancini (1964)
  • Rufus Jones – Five on Eight
  • Roland Kirk - Here Comes the Whistleman (1965)
  • Dave McKenna - Dave McKenna Quartet with Zoot Sims (Chiaroscuro, 1974)
  • Jay McShann - Some Blues (Chiaroscuro, 1992)
  • Flip Phillips - The Claw (Chiaroscuro, 1986)
  • Richie Pratt - Olathe (Artists Recording Collective, 2007)
  • Hilton Ruiz - Crosscurrents (Stash, 1985)
  • Shirley Scott - The Soul Is Willing (Prestige, 1963), Drag 'em Out (Prestige, 1963)
  • Frank Sinatra - L.A. Is My Lady (1984)
  • Stanley Turrentine - Never Let Me Go (1963)
  • Dicky Wells - Bones for the King (Felsted, 1958), Trombone Four-in-Hand (Felsted, 1959)
  • Gerry Wiggins - Wig Is Here (Black & Blue, 1977)
  • Teddy Wilson - Teddy Wilson and his All-Stars (Chiaroscuro, 1976)
  • Phil Woods - Directly From The Half Note (Philology, 1966)

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