464

John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble: Eternal Interlude

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
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 Blessing (Omnitone, 2005). Employing a wide range of instrumental sonorities, these kaleidoscopic pieces invoke the rich tone colors and varied dynamics of contemporary classical music as much as the muscular power of the original big bands.

An aficionado of new music with a predilection for the hypnotic rhythms of the early minimalists, Hollenbeck also serves as regular percussionist for composer Meredith Monk. Sharing Monk's fascination with the endless timbral potential of the human voice, Hollenbeck employs fellow Monk Vocal Member Theo Bleckmann as the Ensemble's lead voice, who lends an air of tranquility to even the most forceful proceedings. Though the band can swing like mad, it is their masterful restraint during introspective passages that most impresses. "The Cloud" is indicative—a placid tone poem woven from a billowy mosaic of delicate flutes, somber brass and hushed voices.

Excelling at atmospheric impressionism, the Ensemble also swings old school, demonstrated by the cubist assemblage "Foreign One," a punning play on Thelonious Monk's "Four In One." Opening with a ramshackle piano line and rousing thicket of horns, the piece vacillates between swirling contrapuntal charts and serene interludes, subtly suggesting Monk's mercurial intervals. Updating the classic Thad Jones-Mel Lewis big band sound with Frank Zappa-esque chutzpah, "Perseverance" features a string of vociferous saxophone solos, the leader's pneumatic drumming and intermittent ethereal detours.

Revealing more exotic influences, the ebullient "Guarana" mixes Latin American rhythms with infectious ostinatos, invoking Steve Reich as readily as Gil Evans. The title track offers a summation of Hollenbeck's interests—an epic work that builds from lush pointillism to soaring harmony. Opulent musings ascend to anthem-like intensity as cagey horn arrangements alternate with Bleckmann's dulcet vocalese—a panoramic canvas that Hollenbeck sketches with scintillating color.

Like fellow Brookmeyer graduates Darcy James Argue and Maria Schneider, Hollenbeck strives to preserve the big band tradition by infusing it with novel new ideas. Eternal Interlude is a striking example of the future, today.


Track Listing: Foreign One; Eternal Interlude; Guarana; The Cloud; Perseverance; No Boat.

Personnel: John Hollenbeck: drums, composition, whistler (4); Kermit Driscoll: acoustic, electric bass; Gary Versace: piano, organ, keyboard; Theo Bleckmann; voice, whistler (4); Ben Kono: flute, soprano, alto saxophone, whistler (4); Jeremy Viner: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Tony Malaby: tenor, soprano saxophone; Dan Willis: tenor, soprano saxophone, flute, english horn, whistler (4); Bohdan Hilash: clarinet, bass clarinet, contra-alto clarinet, whistler (4); Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone (5, 6); Rob Hudson: trombone, whistler (4); Mike Christianson: trombone, whistler (4); Jacob Garchik: tenor horn (2), whistler (4); Alan Ferber: trombone; trumpet/flugelhorn: trombone; Tony Kadleck: trombone; Jon Owens: trombone, whistler (4); Dave Ballou: trombone; Laurie Frink: trombone; Matt Moran: mallet percussion (1, 3, 4); John Ferrari: mallet percussion (2, 5, 6); JC Sanford: conductor.

Title: Eternal Interlude | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Air and Light and Time and Space" CD/LP/Track Review Air and Light and Time and Space
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2017
Read "Trip" CD/LP/Track Review Trip
by Jeff Winbush
Published: September 12, 2017
Read "Territoires" CD/LP/Track Review Territoires
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 26, 2017
Read "The Chase" CD/LP/Track Review The Chase
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves" CD/LP/Track Review Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves
by Duncan Heining
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Samba Para a Vida" CD/LP/Track Review Samba Para a Vida
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 7, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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