Young-Holt Unlimited


About Young-Holt Unlimited

Bassist Eldee Young and drummer Isaac "Red" Holt attended the American Conversatory of Music in Chicago together, and played together in a dance orchestra called the Cleffs, where they met pianist Ramsey Lewis and formed a popular jazz trio in 1956. After a decade as Lewis' rhythm section, Young and Holt split to form their own act in the wake of the trio's breakout pop hit "The 'In' Crowd." Hiring pianist Hysear Don Walker and christening themselves the Young-Holt Trio, they scored a quick Top 20 R&B hit with the infectious and silly "Wack Wack." Most of their material, recorded on several LPs for Brunswick, cut an invigorating soul-jazz groove that explored the territory between Jimmy Smith and Junior Walker, with dour bass, Ray Charles-inspired keyboards, faint scat vocals, and a live party ambience. In 1968, Walker was replaced by Ken Chaney as Young and Holt tightened up their sound, added some funky rhythms, and renamed the group Young-Holt Unlimited. They scored a left-field smash with the instrumental "Soulful Strut," which was actually the backing track from Brunswick soul singer Barbara Acklin's "Am I the Same Girl." Although the actual Young-Holt group was rumored not to have even played on the track, it went all the way to number three in 1969, driven by a bright, indelible horn riff. Attempts to duplicate its success met with indifference, and although Young-Holt Unlimited remained a popular concert attraction on both the R&B and jazz circuits (sometimes with pianist Bobby Lyle in place of Chaney), their recording career was on the wane. They cut LPs for Atlantic (1972's Oh Girl) and Paula (1973's Plays Superfly) that failed to restore their commercial momentum, and disbanded in 1974. Both Young and Holt reunited with Ramsey Lewis in 1983. ~ Steve Huey

Chicago, IL, United States of America