TRIBUTE: Frank Holder (1925 – 2017) by Geoff Castle

Frank Holder receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award
from the Worshipful Company of Musicians
Photo credit: John Levett / Creative Commons
The great Guyanese-born British vocalist FRANK HOLDER passed away last weekend at the age of 92. Holder was a fixture on the British jazz scene ever since arriving in the UK in 1944. One important association was the Dankworth Seven, which he joined in 1952. In this tribute, Geoff Castle remembers him:

I was deeply saddened to hear last night of the passing of my dear friend, brother in music and partner in improvisation Mr Frank Holder. From the first time I played with him over 30 years ago we had a great rapport which continued to grow over the years. Frank had a beautiful, expressive voice singing ballads and he embodied the very spirit of bebop jazz in his up tempo scatting.

In the late 1990s he joined Paz as vocalist for a few years and percussionist where his superb Latin skills were heavily featured. Later I formed a trio with Frank and another sadly departed friend, tenor player Stan Robinson. Working as a trio under the name Castle Frank n Stan we toured together and played many gigs. This band was full of improvisational rapport and it was an absolute pleasure to be a part of it. Over the period I worked with him, Frank’s talent continued to grow. His appearance at a total capacity Ronnie Scott’s concert last year went down an absolute storm. Our regular gigs were a real delight and his latest recordings are a monument to his immense talent.

Recently I had played gigs with him with another close associate guitarist Shane Hill and long term friend bassist Val Manix. I was booked to play a quartet gig with him this Tuesday in Kent.

Frank, we will all miss you very much indeed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the music and the inspiration. 


This tribute originally appeared on Geoff Castle’s Facebook page and is reproduced with his kind permission.

 LINKS: Review of Frank Holder’s 90th birthday gig at the 2015 London Jazz Festival
Biography on Wikipedia

Categories: miscellaneous

3 replies »

  1. One of the all time greats alongside his friends Billy Eckstine and Nat King Cole. A supremely gifted musician and a great man.

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