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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Hollenbeck / Alban Darche / S├ębastien Boisseau / Samuel Blaser: J.A.S.S.

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J.A.S.S. as in the first letters of the names of American drummer John hollenbeck, French saxophonist Alban Darche and double bassist S├ębastien Boisseau and Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser. But Jass also as the term used by the Original Dixieland Jass Band in March 1917 for the very first jazz-album recording or just the name of centuries-old popular card game in Switzerland and Austria. All of the above references relevant to this quartet who first played together in Berlin in July 2011 and recorded its debut after an artist's residency in Nantes, France, the hometown of Darche ...

INTERVIEWS

John Hollenbeck's September Songs

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John Hollenbeck's productivity would be astonishing in its own right, but the uniformly high quality of this high output places the drummer among the top tier of jazz (and not only jazz) musicians. Hollenbeck's recordings, compositions and performances defy certain expectations. He can be as seriously intellectual as a stereotypically stuffy classical musician, but his music is interlaced with humor and fun. As befits a 21st century drummer, he is rhythmically complex but the music is underlain with a deep groove. He borrows ecumenically from a diversity of musical (including the rhythms of the spoken word) sources and manages to ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

John Hollenbeck: Songs I Like a Lot

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There are four potent musical personalities at play on Songs I Like A Lot. The first is the erstwhile leader, drummer John Hollenbeck, musical raconteur and general high-art roustabout. He has had a long association with vocalist Theo Bleckmann, both in big band settings on A Blessing (Omnitone, 2005) and with Claudia Quintet on What Is Beautiful? (Cuneiform, 2012). Bleckmann, in turn, is friends with vocalist Kate McGarry, who's Girl Talk (Palmetto, 2012) was a highlight of the year. From McGarry's past releases, including Girl Talk comes pianist/organist Gary Versace, completing our power quartet. Songs I Like ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

John Hollenbeck: Songs I Like a Lot

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It's hard to resist, at the very least, looking at an album with as honest and unassuming a title as Songs I Like a Lot; but it's even harder to resist when it turns out that the instigator is John Hollenbeck, founder of and primary composer for Claudia Quintet--the chamber jazz ensemble which has, over the course of six albums in nine years, completely defied definition and categorization, beyond combining improvisational prowess and the ability to subtly interpret through-composed music. When Hollenbeck releases a recording under his own name, it's generally in a larger-scale environment, and Songs I Like a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Claudia Quintet: Royal Toast

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With one exception, drummer John Hollenbeck hasn't taken prominent front-cover credit on releases by The Claudia Quintet. This holds true for Royal Toast, the band's extraordinary fifth album. The decision makes sense, for Hollenbeck's labyrinthine compositions get much of their subtlety and force from the individual players that have defined the group's identity from the start. On Royal Toast, Hollenbeck yields the floor to each of them in turn and so “Ted versus Ted" features accordionist Ted Reichman in a brief double-tracked duet with himself; “Drew with Drew" highlights bassist Drew Gress in the same fashion; “Matt ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Claudia Quintet with Gary Versace: Royal Toast

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The humorously titled Royal Toast is the fifth album from the Claudia Quintet, percussionist and composer John Hollenbeck's longstanding five-piece that is--in the eternal words of Duke Ellington--a band “beyond category." Eradicating the tenuous boundary lines between idioms, Hollenbeck and company draw on ethnic traditions, free jazz, contemporary composition and progressive rock in their multifaceted explorations.

A former pupil of legendary jazz composer Bob Brookmeyer and an avowed student of the minimalists, Hollenbeck's compositions are imbued with both the intricate structural layering of the former and the forthright emotional directness of the later. Mirroring the sequencing of the ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble: Eternal Interlude

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John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble Eternal Interlude Sunnyside Records 2009

The music on Eternal Interlude by drummer John Hollenbeck cannot be described in one word, but if it could that word would be “poignant." But of course, one word is not enough, so in settling for two, those would be “poignant" and “challenging." But then two words appear so insufficient, and the search widens and reveals, perhaps, an additional word to go with “poignant" and “challenging," and that word is “epic." But then another listen reveals that even three words do not do ...



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