The Claudia Quintet has been evolving and shaping its music, creating a potent and forceful presence. They do it with graceful finesse; working the elements to let melody get its due and improvisation mark its presence. Think of the quintet as a minstrel of joy and the charm of their music becomes apparent. Theirs is a sound that flows like a river of shimmering beauty that glimmers, glows and most importantly, runs deep.
The music challenges norms. What starts out as a bouncy ode, may slip into chamber music and out again, without a grain of emotion sacrificed. Then again the intuitive interplay may find another sound to ferment. Context is never capsized by content. The evolution of these elements and their framing comes to life on "Be Happy.
John Hollenbeck sets up a percussive dance on the drums that is answered by Matt Moran (vibraphone) and Chris Speed (tenor saxophone). The fluidity of the instruments changes course and shape. Speed twists and thrusts the melody, his groove flinty, quite the contrast to the sweet interspersions of Moran and the accordion of Ted Reichman. The cadence of the middle section comes from the interlocking bass of Drew Gress and the whirlpool of Moran's vibraphone until it gets back into ensemble lines.
Rug Boy erupts on Hollenbeck's drumming, a foretaste of the sense of urgency, fragmented lines, and free form that the group unleashes. But key surprise is their movement and it comes in the orchestration of the melody as the players weave the tapestry in unison.
I'm So Fickin' Cool is another marvel of concept and execution. The giddy rhythm of bass and drums pulses afar from the crystalline tones of the accordion, the clarinet jumps in on darting lines, for a kaleidoscope that keeps the melody upfront and the inventions colorful.
This is a bright, expressive recording that should grab the listener with immediacy.
I'm So Fickin' Cool (for Fitz Pauer); August 5th, 2006 (for Kate Schroeder and family); Be Happy (for S.N. Goenka); This Too Shall Pass (for Tom Moran and family); Rug Boy (for Debbie Clapper); For You; Rainy Days/Peanut Vendor Mash-up (for all music teachers); Three Odes: Admiration (for Peter Garland), Nostalgia (for Jan Garbarek), Pity (for Mary Cheney).
Chris Speed: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Ted Reichman: accordion; Matt Moran: vibraphone, vocals/lyrics (6); Drew Gress: acoustic bass; John Hollenbeck: drums, percussion, electronic tape preparation (6).
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