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Articles | Popular | Future

YEAR IN REVIEW

Troy Dostert's Best Releases of 2016

Read "Troy Dostert's Best Releases of 2016" reviewed by Troy Dostert

It has been an exciting year for artists perched on the precipice between jazz and other idioms. Each of these releases manages in its own way both to challenge and to inspire the listener, and the stylistic variety on display is an encouraging sign that creative music is truly in good hands! The Claudia Quintet Super Petite (Cuneiform) Another superb collection of songs from John Hollenbeck, brilliantly played by his veteran associates ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

The Claudia Quintet: Super Petite

Read "Super Petite" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

For this widely acclaimed band's 8th album, drummer John Hollenbeck decided to compose concise pieces that get the job done in less time stating: “When the tunes are longer, there tend to be moments when not a whole lot is happening. If you have a really short tune, the whole thing has to be compelling." Hence, the drummer succeeds when abiding by that principle without sacrificing the quintet's famously tight rhythmic excursions, abetted by sinuous movements and buoyant dialogues. Hollenbeck's ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

The Claudia Quintet: Super Petite

Read "Super Petite" reviewed by Geno Thackara

If there's one thing you can pin down about the Claudia Quintet, it's their inability to be pinned down. Starting off this release with “Nightbreak" is like dropping into a soundtrack to some sleepy '50s-style arty cartoon, with an acoustic retro tone that comes from the combination of vibraphone and clarinet. The piece isn't catchy and barely even feels melodic, but simply meanders like a lazy insect wafting back and forth across the garden on a slow summer afternoon. At ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

The Claudia Quintet: Super Petite

Read "Super Petite" reviewed by Mark Corroto

Except for a brief dalliance with the ingénue Lucy, drummer and bandleader John Hollenbeck has been faithful to his Claudia for nearly twenty years. Super Petite is the 8th release and 7th on Cuneiform Records. Actually, the band leader has had others. Besides his Lucy Quartet, there is his John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, Refuge Trio, duos with Jorrit Dijkstra and Theo Bleckmann, and the apropos (is there a pattern developing here?) Blind Date Quartet. His quintet is always ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

John Hollenbeck / Alban Darche / Sébastien Boisseau / Samuel Blaser: J.A.S.S.

Read "J.A.S.S." reviewed by Eyal Hareuveni

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 ...

INTERVIEWS

John Hollenbeck's September Songs

Read "John Hollenbeck's September Songs" reviewed by Jeff Dayton-Johnson

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 ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

John Hollenbeck: Songs I Like a Lot

Read "John Hollenbeck: Songs I Like a Lot" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

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 ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

John Hollenbeck: Songs I Like a Lot

Read "John Hollenbeck: Songs I Like a Lot" reviewed by John Kelman

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. ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

The Claudia Quintet: Royal Toast

Read "Royal Toast" reviewed by David Adler

With one exception, drummer John Hollenbeck hasn't taken prominent front-cover credit on releases by The Claudia Quintet. This holds true for Royal Toast, the band's extraordinary fifth album. The decision makes sense, for Hollenbeck's labyrinthine compositions get much of their subtlety and force from the individual players that have defined the group's identity from the start. On Royal Toast, Hollenbeck yields the floor to each of them in turn and so “Ted versus Ted" features accordionist Ted ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

The Claudia Quintet with Gary Versace: Royal Toast

Read "Royal Toast" reviewed by Troy Collins

The humorously titled Royal Toast is the fifth album from the Claudia Quintet, percussionist and composer John Hollenbeck's longstanding five-piece that is--in the eternal words of Duke Ellington--a band “beyond category." Eradicating the tenuous boundary lines between idioms, Hollenbeck and company draw on ethnic traditions, free jazz, contemporary composition and progressive rock in their multifaceted explorations.

A former pupil of legendary jazz composer Bob Brookmeyer and an avowed student of the minimalists, Hollenbeck's compositions are imbued with both ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble: Eternal Interlude

Read "John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble: Eternal Interlude" reviewed by Raul d'Gama Rose

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 ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble: Eternal Interlude

Read "Eternal Interlude" reviewed by Troy Collins

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 ...