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John Hollenbeck: Rainbow Jimmies (2009)

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John Hollenbeck: Rainbow Jimmies How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Percussionist and composer John Hollenbeck has led a diverse and multifaceted career since his early studies with legendary trombonist/composer Bob Brookmeyer
Bob Brookmeyer
Bob Brookmeyer
1929 - 2011
trombone
. As a sideman, Hollenbeck has served alongside Brookmeyer, Satoko Fujii
Satoko Fujii
Satoko Fujii
b.1958
piano
, Fred Hersch
Fred Hersch
Fred Hersch
b.1955
piano
, Jim McNeely
Jim McNeely
Jim McNeely
b.1949
composer/conductor
, Patrick Zimmerli, and others in addition to leading his own group, the unclassifiable Claudia Quintet. On a larger scale, he has written for big band, collaborated with new music composer Meredith Monk
Meredith Monk
Meredith Monk
b.1943
vocalist
, and received numerous commissions from wind and percussion ensembles.

Whether writing for the Claudia Quintet or his big band, Hollenbeck's compositions always bear the distinctive stamp of his singular style—an eclectic but cohesive amalgam of advanced jazz harmonies and post-minimalist rhythms bolstered by tuneful melodies and driving rock-like intensity. Rainbow Jimmies is no exception, but where previous efforts have focused on his writing and drumming skills equally, this session spotlights his work as a composer first and foremost.

Revealing a keen ear for melody, the opening series of "Gray Cottage" studies features the unique pairing of renowned classical violinist Todd Reynolds

Todd Reynolds
Todd Reynolds

violin
and jazz vibraphonist Matt Moran (a member of the Claudia Quintet) intermittently supported by the understated flourishes of Hollenbeck's trap set. Conceived as a series of meditative etudes to test the limits of the violin, these introspective variations reveal Reynolds' lyrical virtuosity as he unfurls bittersweet cadences ranging from austere to soulful, interweaving with Moran's scintillating accents and Hollenbeck's subtle interjections.

Hollenbeck's intricate yet melodious writing for large percussion ensemble is deftly realized on two versions of "Ziggurat." The first, "(Exterior)" employs the Youngstown Percussion Collective and Saxophone Quartet in a primal exercise in counterpoint reminiscent of the harmonious canons of Moondog. In a similar vein, the Ethos Percussion Group interprets the percolating exotica of the Balinese gamelan-inspired "(Interior)" with the minimalist rigor of Steve Reich

Steve Reich
Steve Reich
b.1936
composer/conductor
and the kaleidoscopic detail of Max Roach
Max Roach
Max Roach
1925 - 2007
drums
's M'Boom.

The Claudia Quintet makes an appearance on "Sinanari," a fusion of Turkish melodies and Zeppelin-esque stomp from the leader that knits rock intensity to infectious minimalism. The title track closes out the album by adding guitarist Mark Stewart to the quintet. Navigating a series of complex meters and unusual time signatures, Stewart delivers a prismatic array of asymmetrical contours over the quintet's increasingly dramatic prog-rock finale.

Rainbow Jimmies is a welcome addition to Hollenbeck's discography, appending an already impressive resume as a creative percussionist and adept bandleader with composer of note.

Track Listing: Gray Cottage Study #1 "Lost In Fog"; Gray Cottage Study #2 "Getting Chilly"; Gray Cottage Study #3 "My Dear"; Gray Cottage Study #4 "Healing And Gratitude"; Gray Cottage Study #5 "Dustish"; Gray Cottage Study #6 "Jazz Hands"; Gray Cottage Study #7 "Tax Penalty Payment Approaching"; Sininari (Acoustic Remix); Ziggurat (Exterior); Ziggurat (Interior); Rainbow Jimmies.

Personnel: John Hollenbeck: drums (1-7), vibraphone (7); Todd Reynolds: violin (1-7); Matt Moran: vibraphone (1-7); Mark Stewart: guitar (11); The Claudia Quintet (8, 11); The Youngstown Percussion Collective and Saxophone Quartet (9); Ethos Percussion Group (10).

Record Label: GPE Records

Style: Classical


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