Legendary saxophonist Hollis Gentry has died. Hollis Gentry III is one of the founding members of Fattburger, and the other musicians (keyboardist Carl Evan, bassist Mark Hunter, drummer Kevin Koch, and guitarist Steve Laury) . Tommy Aros joined the band as their percussionist and in the early '90s, when Laury started a solo career and Evan Marks became Fattburger's guitarist. Fattburger found a home on the Shanachie label, releasing a string of well-received albums into the 21st century.
Gentry helped create the sound that changed Southern California's jazz scene forever. There is no better word to describe his mastery of the saxophone and his improvisational dynamics, which music critics frequently compare to legends like Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Stitt, Johnny Griffin and John Coltrane.
Gentry was nine when he first picked up a saxophone. While attending Crawford High School he and the band (Power) he formed were on tour with Barry White's "Love Unlimited Orchestra." During that time, Gentry and his band also collaborated briefly with the legendary Cannonball Adderly. He attended San Diego State University and during the second half of the 1970s had opportunities to play straight-ahead jazz with Bruce Cameron.
As the first-ever jazz artist to perform with the renowned San Diego Symphony Orchestra, he opened doors to performance for an eclectic array of artists to the delight of symphony goers and jazz fans.
He has collaborated around the country with the top names in jazz including Freddie Hubbard, Jimmy Smith, Mel Torme, Stanley Clarke, Nancy Wilson, Randy Crawford, Bobby Hutcherson, David Benoit, Joe Sample, Al Jarreau, Phil Upchurch and Larry Carlton.
It is indeed a sad day for San Diego's music scene. Rest in peace Hollis.