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John Hollenbeck / Alban Darche / Sébastien 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 Sébastien 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 ...

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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble: Eternal Interlude

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In addition to leading the unclassifiable Claudia Quintet and performing numerous sideman duties, composer and percussionist John Hollenbeck is renowned for his inimitable multi-layered writing. Hollenbeck studied under composer Bob Brookmeyer before charting a unique path in creative improvised music, incorporating elements of minimalism, post-rock and indigenous folk music into his eclectic compositions. As leader of a twenty piece Large Ensemble, he expands the sonic palette of traditional big band writing with his unorthodox approach.

Featuring a series of commissions from jazz orchestras around the globe, Eternal Interlude is the Large Ensemble's sophomore effort, following their debut, A ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble: Eternal Interlude

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Like fragments of crystal, John Hollenbeck's large ensemble casts angular lines, unusual shapes and refracts music (rather than light) differently than typical jazz big bands. The prolific drummer/composer's progressive slant has been at the core of The Claudia Quintet's For (Cuneiform, 2007) and Semi-Formal (Cuneiform, 2006); music marked by enigmatic ideas of swing, modern chamber music and wider influences. Like his first large ensemble recording A Blessing (Omnitone, 2005), Eternal Interlude documents Hollenbeck's inventions on grander scale with a 20+ piece band (that includes notables such as Tony Malaby, Ellery Eskelin, Gary Versace and Kermit Driscoll), working ...



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