The Holler Sessions: Jazz Athlete Sheds Blood, Sweat and Tears

Jazz DJ spins plates and jangles the marrow in your bones.

The Holler Sessions was flawless: a mind-bending, soul-stretching deep-dive into the early history of jazz. Do not miss.

Written and performed by Frank Boyd, directed by Josh Aaseng and Rachel Chavkin, and created in collaboration with the TEAM at ACTLab, this one-man show (eh, with a little help from his friends) is a must-see for people who love music. ANY kind of music. Think you’re too old, young, simple, sophisticated, local, far-flung, beer-drinking, alt or whatever for jazz? Wrong. You just haven’t caught this particular wavelength. Yet.

I went in half expecting high, maniacal, Seattle-freeze culture that’s TOO COOL FOR YOU. A one-way trip to Crazytown. But oh sweet Crazytown it was, with a collection of kind faces and superfun whirly rides.

Boyd’s appearance and radio station setting were unkempt–in cheap sweatsocks and a too-big polyester polo with a hole in the arm, working his exposed wires and a dead plant, piles of boxes and walls of post-its. Like many of the jazz heroes we met, the DJ’s life was rather a wreck. But watching him surrender to this music, this moment, opened our reverent ears to Charlie Parker’s shimmy, Nina Simone’s This Is For Real vocals, and Miles Davis stringing us on with fine thread.

We saw the sound ripple through Frank Boyd’s instrument: the actor as jazz athlete with a towel ‘round his neck, shedding blood, sweat and tears. He even lit the dark  with a tender sax solo and let radio silence hold negative space, sink in, and syncopate. He brought us the DJ’s art of spinning plates while admonishing us to join in synergy with the LIVE experience. And when the music called, the audience response just happened. The hollering was that easy.

Now in case it’s not obvious, I don’t know jack about jazz. Until opening night. Frank Boyd schooled me proper on how the scene in the 1920’s flapped its wings and lifted off the ground. With The Bird, Charlie Parker, at the vortex of the V-formation. The movement was born of a socio-demographic mess and the obsession of fans and aficionados who loved the music with a fury. You don’t have to qualify to love this play. Anyone who knows how it feels to be human from the inside will feel every tune The Holler Sessions presents. As for me, it reached down the middle of my bones, shook me up and settled me down. The Holler Sessions is 100% jangling, melting bone marrow, people.


The Holler Sessions

ACTLab, in collaboration with the TEAM

The Bullit Cabaret

Seattle Downtown, 700 Union Street, Seattle WA 98101

September 29-October 9, 2016




Parking: Evening parking costs $7 at the Convention Center, ‘round the block.

Scroll to Top