In The Easy Chair with ... Justin Holden

In The Easy Chair with ... Justin Holden

The Westerly Sun


AGE: 70

OCCUPATION: Musician and former tax lawyer.

RESIDENCE: Westerly.

BORN, RAISED & GREW UP IN: Born in the town of Colebrook, a suburb of the boondocks in northwestern Connecticut (population 800 when I was young).

RIGHT NOW I’M IN THE MIDDLE OF: Trying to master the piccolo for an upcoming musical production in Waterford.

FAVORITE WAY TO SPEND MY TIME: Playing and listening to jazz. I am principally a tenor saxophonist, but I play other woodwinds and piano.

PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: My efforts to diversify the leadership of the Rhode Island Bar. The legal profession continues to lag behind other professions in opportunities for minorities.

I’D LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED FOR: My “sound”: Sound, as contrasted with virtuosity, is primary to me in playing any instrument, and I have worked hard for decades on my “sound” on each instrument I play. I would of course also like to be remembered for my wit and my tomato sauce.



TOP ON MY BUCKET LIST: To speak Italian with some fluency and to get back to Italy soon and frequently.

ALWAYS IN MY POCKET: Quarters, and a tiny Swiss Army knife.

WHAT I WANTED TO BE WHEN I GREW UP: A Polish-American John Coltrane.

PERSON WHO HAS INFLUENCED ME THE MOST: Jim Newton, my first saxophone teacher, who was a role model for me and who sagely advised me to go to college, get a good education and secure a good “Day Job.”

FAVORITE AUTHOR: Charles Dickens.

I AM READING: Bryan Cranston’s “A Life in Parts,” John Norwich’s “Sicily” and Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”.

I AM LISTENING TO: Tom Harrel, an important jazz trumpet player whose work had passed me by, as I have always focused on sax and piano players.

FAVORITE MOVIE/LAST MOVIE WATCHED: Favorite: “Casablanca.” Last watched: the Martin Scorsese remake of “Cape Fear.”

FAVORITE TV SHOW: “Better Call Saul”

FAVORITE PET: My cat Sophia (but don’t tell Gina, our other cat).

FAVORITE COMFORT FOOD: Spaghetti aglio e oglio

AMOUNT OF TIME I SPEND ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Two hours a week? One hour too much?

TRAIT I MOST ADMIRE: Integrity.

PET PEEVE: People who litter or otherwise disrespect our common spaces.

FAVORITE QUOTATION: “ I hear you’re so crooked you have rubber pockets so you can steal soup.” — Jack Webb from the film “Pete Kelly’s Blues.” That probably dates me.

MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT OUR LITTLE CORNER OF THE WORLD: My wife and I have a running debate about the “Top Ten” best things about life in Westerly: the seared tuna at the Twisted Vine, the calamari at the 84 Tavern on Canal, the beach, or the seafood at Seawell in Pawcatuck. However, at the top of the list is the friendliness of the people of Westerly, most particularly the very close and dear friends we have made over the past couple of years.

CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT: Coffee.

LITTLE KNOWN FACT ABOUT ME: My lineage is predominantly Polish.

BEST ADVICE I EVER RECEIVED: Get as much education as you can. (This advice was given in the context of achieving economic security. I think a better reason for education is to maximize one’s human potential.)

ADVICE I BEST LIKE TO GIVE: Do NOT seek a career, or stay in one, for the money. You are going to spend too much of your life working. Do whatever is necessary to do something that you love or that at least you can take pride in.

IF I RULED THE WORLD I WOULD: Enact universal health care ... worldwide .

IF I WON THE LOTTERY, THE FIRST THING I WOULD DO IS: Open a jazz club.

I DRIVE A: Black 2012 BMW 535

I WISH I DROVE A: Black BMW 535.

ALWAYS IN MY FRIDGE: My own red sauce.

IF I COULD INVITE ONE SPECIAL PERSON TO JOIN ME FOR DINNER AND CONVERSATION, I WOULD INVITE:

Bernie Sanders.

— Interview and video arranged and edited by Nancy Burns-Fusaro


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