Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

346

The Claudia Quintet with Gary Versace: Royal Toast

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
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 the intricate structural layering of the former and the forthright emotional directness of the later. Mirroring the sequencing of the Quintet's previous albums, For (Cuneiform, 2007) and Semi-Formal (Cuneiform, 2005), this date alternates complex long-form works with brief interludes, this time in the form of unaccompanied improvised cadenzas from each member of the group. Joining the leader, multi-reedist Chris Speed, vibraphonist Matt Moran, accordionist Ted Reichman, bassist Drew Gress and guest pianist Gary Versace each play brief virtual duets with themselves, their multi-tracked solos serving as seamless bridges between compositions.

Versace joined the Quintet as a guest on its previous tour and is featured throughout the record. With Versace added to the mix, the group's sound is dominated by percussive string textures, an aesthetic Hollenbeck ably exploits on these new pieces. Far from mere blowing vehicles, Hollenbeck's intricate compositions allow his sidemen a modicum of solo space, with each member contributing equally to the mix, their subtle contributions blurring the line between the composed and improvised. Like a puzzle, Hollenbeck's modular arrangements feature interlocking counterpoint, cantilevered rhythms and modulating tempos; despite the high-brow approach, these pieces maintain an air of rhythmic immediacy and melodic accessibility.

The polyrhythmic title track, tempo shifting "Armitage Shanks" and funky "Keramag" are among the most infectious examples of Hollenbeck's contrapuntal writing—kaleidoscopic mosaics of harmony, melody and rhythm. Embracing genre, the passionate "Sphinx" brings Arabic and African influences to an exotic sonic travelogue that careens with unfettered glee, while "Ideal Standard" and "American Standard" both borrow liberally from jazz tradition. The former is a haunting rubato ballad, the later a driving anthem.

The remainder of the album tends towards an understated, chamber music vibe at the opposite end of the sonic spectrum occupied by such fare as the turbulent "Paterna Terra." The through-composed "Zurn" invokes minimalist concepts, its hypnotic drum and piano figure building tension until the tune's cinematic finale, which is reminiscent of the euphonious opener, "Crane Merit" and the closer, "For Frederick Franck," a lyrical ode to the Dutch painter, sculptor and author.

Balancing dynamics that range from bittersweet balladry to ebullient grooves, Royal Toast is another un-categorizable yet accessible offering from Hollenbeck and the peerless Claudia Quintet.

Track Listing: Crane Merit; Keramag Prelude; Keramag; Paterna Terra; Ted versus Ted; Armitage Shanks; Drew with Drew; Sphinx; Matt on Matt; Zurn; Chris and Chris; Royal Toast; "Ideal" Intro; "Ideal Standard"; American Standard; For Frederick Franck.

Personnel: John Hollenbeck: drums, percussion; Ted Reichman: accordion; Chris Speed: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Matt Moran: vibraphone; Drew Gress: acoustic bass; Gary Versace: piano, accordion (16).

Title: Royal Toast | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Year in Review
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Profiles
Interviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Read more articles
Mix of Sun and Clouds

Mix of Sun and Clouds

Yolk Records
2017

buy
Super Petite

Super Petite

Cuneiform Records
2016

buy
J.A.S.S.

J.A.S.S.

Yolk Records
2014

buy
Jass

Jass

Yolk Records
2014

buy
John Hollenbeck: Songs I Like a Lot

John Hollenbeck:...

Sunnyside Records
2013

buy
September

September

Cuneiform Records
2013

buy

Related Articles

Read Caldera / Sky Islands Album Reviews
Caldera / Sky Islands
By Jakob Baekgaard
May 25, 2019
Read Baby, Please Come Home Album Reviews
Baby, Please Come Home
By Doug Collette
May 25, 2019
Read Reckless Heart Album Reviews
Reckless Heart
By Doug Collette
May 25, 2019
Read Fire Brigade Album Reviews
Fire Brigade
By Phillip Woolever
May 25, 2019
Read Day to Day Album Reviews
Day to Day
By Paul Naser
May 24, 2019
Read Theia Album Reviews
Theia
By Jim Worsley
May 24, 2019