177

John Hollenbeck: A Blessing

David Adler By

Sign in to view read count
John Hollenbeck has made several small-group recordings, but a large ensemble suits his advanced compositional voice especially well. With A Blessing, he documents the inspired large-group work he has showcased live over the last three or so years (most recently at the Jazz Standard CD release gig on January 25th). The drummer/bandleader's music is a bit more abstract than that of Maria Schneider and her forebearers (Brookmeyer, Gil Evans, et al.), but it drinks from nearby streams and it has a personal quality that haunts the imagination well after the album ends. The opening title track and the closing "The Music of Life feature vocalist Theo Bleckmann singing prepared texts — the former a prayer read at the funeral of Hollenbeck's grandmother, the latter a meditation on music and spiritual healing from Hazrat Inayat Khan. At 16 minutes, the first piece is a rubato dreamscape that builds to a soaring tangle of melodies over a challenging harmonic rhythm. The last piece makes use of lyrical drones and monotones, with dissonant flute and low brass textures and occasional throat-singing from Bleckmann.

"Folkmoot, commissioned for a 2003 IAJE premiere in Toronto, begins in a bright, driving tempo which later gets underlined by electric bassist Kermit Driscoll. "Ram, inspired by Muhal Richard Abrams, finds pianist Gary Versace and vibraphonist Matt Moran sparring in between gruff announcements from the horns. "Weiji, with its insistent tom-tom patterns, hints at Ellington's Africanist tendencies but winds down with a much lighter, straight-eighth melodic theme. "Abstinence, the second-longest piece, has a restrained, rock-like feel and something of a spy movie flavor, with curious electronic elements at the end. "April In Reggae (which opened Hollenbeck's first set at the Jazz Standard) contains a buried reference to "April In Paris. Hollenbeck takes a stark six-note theme and elongates it, until it coils around itself.

One complaint: Horn soloists are not identified on the recording. The reeds are Tom Christensen, Ben Kono, Chris Speed, Dan Willis and Alan Won. The trombonists are Rob Hudson, Kurtis Pivert, Jacob Garchik and Alan Ferber. The trumpeters are Jon Owens, Tony Kadlek, Dave Ballou and Laurie Frink. Hollenbeck, tied up behind the drum kit, enlists JC Sanford as his conductor. Many of these players were at the Standard, where Hollenbeck rolled out several new, non-album arrangements, including a vivid "Four In One by Thelonious Monk. Even when interpreting canonical jazz, Hollenbeck goes about his art with startling originality and vision.

Track Listing: A Blessing; Folkmoot; Ram; Weiji; Abstinence; April in Reggae; The Music of Life

Personnel: Dave Ballou (Trumpet); Theo Bleckmann (Voices); Tom Christensen (Soprano, English Horn, Tenor Sax); Kermit Driscoll (Bass); Alan Ferber (Trombone); Laurie Frink (Trumpet); Jacob Garchik (Trombone); John Hollenbeck (Drums); Robert Hudson (Trombone); Tony Kadleck (Trumpet); Ben Kono (Alto, Flute, Soprano sax); Matt Moran (Mallets); Jon Owens (Trumpet); Chris Speed (Clarinet); Gary Versace (Piano)

Title: A Blessing | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: OmniTone


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Alto Gusto CD/LP/Track Review Alto Gusto
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Flow CD/LP/Track Review Flow
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Originals For the Originals CD/LP/Track Review Originals For the Originals
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Killing Bugs CD/LP/Track Review Killing Bugs
by Kevin Press
Published: November 20, 2017
Read The Way of It CD/LP/Track Review The Way of It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Tag Book CD/LP/Track Review Tag Book
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 19, 2017
Read "Strykin’ Ahead" CD/LP/Track Review Strykin’ Ahead
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 30, 2017
Read "Gratified Never Satisfied" CD/LP/Track Review Gratified Never Satisfied
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 16, 2017
Read "Creekside" CD/LP/Track Review Creekside
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 13, 2017
Read "Paint" CD/LP/Track Review Paint
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 7, 2017
Read "King For A Day" CD/LP/Track Review King For A Day
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 3, 2017
Read "History Of The Lisbon Chaplaincy" CD/LP/Track Review History Of The Lisbon Chaplaincy
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 13, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor