The Claudia Quintet: I, Claudia (2004)
To celebrate the release of I, Claudia, the band performed at Tonic last month, giving a workout to many of the new tunes. Like the CD, the show kicked off with the skittering, syncopated groove of "Just Like Him." In counterpoint to the kinetic pace of the drums, the ensemble sustains longer notes, which reach a mournful climax in the middle of the song when the drums stop and Reichman and Speed drone together. At the gig the two were joined by Hollenbeck's melodica, Moran's whistle, and Gress' plastic-toy saxophone, adding to the cacophony.
Reichman and Speed also tested the limits of harmony on "Can You Get Through This Life With a Good Heart?," which was atmospheric and sparse until Hollenbeck entered with a laid-back rhythm. "Misty Hymen" allowed the band to showcase its tight unison playingthe punctuated stops as crisp as the recording. "Couch" featured a mutant-reggae feel and a melody that was deconstructed into long, sustained sounds by the end.
A highlight of the recording is "The Cloud of Unknowing," a more through-composed piece that takes time to build, with shifting sections built around the accordion, clarinet, and vibes. On "Adowa," the bass and vibes play a unison part against a repetitive tenor line, while Hollenbeck adds a complex pattern split between rim shots, cymbals, and rolling toms.
I, Claudia is at once challenging and funfull of surprise, wit, and great performances by all.
This review originally appeared in AllAboutJazz-New York .
Track Listing: 1. Just Like Him 6:37 2. Opening 6:40 3. Arabic 8:23 4. The Cloud of Unknowing 6:08 5. Adowa (For Gra) 5:28 6. ...Can You Get Through This Life With a... 7:38 7. Misty Hymen 5:45 8. Couch 9:01
Personnel: Drew Gress - Bass; John Hollenbeck - Drums; Chris Speed - Clarinet, Tenor Sax; Ted Reichman - Accordion; Matt Moran - Percussion, Vibraphone.
Record Label: Cuneiform Records