Major Holley

Major "Mule" Holley (July 10, 1924 in Detroit, Michigan October 25, 1990 in Maplewood, New Jersey) was an American jazz upright bassist.[1]


Holley attended the prestigious Cass Technical High School.[2] 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.


As leader

  • Two Big Mice with Slam Stewart (Black and Blue, 1977)
  • Shut Yo' Mouth! with Slam Stewart (PM, 1987)
  • Major Step with Joe Van Enkhuizen (Timeless 1992)
  • Excuse Me Ludwig (Black and Blue, 1997)
  • Mighty Like a Rose with Rose Murphy (Black & Blue, 1998)

As sideman

With Peter Appleyard

  • Barbados Heat (Concord Jazz, 1990)
  • Barbados Cool (Concord Jazz, 1991)

With Kenny Burrell

With Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis

  • Light and Lovely (Black and Blue, 1979)
  • Midnight Slows Vol. 10 (Black and Blue, 1979)

With Coleman Hawkins

With Jo Jones

With Quincy Jones

With B. B. King

With Roland Kirk

With Buddy Tate

  • The Texas Twister (Master Jazz 1975)
  • Just Jazz (Uptown, 1984)
  • Just Friends (Muse, 1992)

With Clark Terry

  • Tread Ye Lightly (Cameo, 1964)
  • Having Fun (Delos, 1990)

With others


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