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The Claudia Quintet: Super Petite

Mark Corroto By

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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 something he comes back to, like Neil Young to Crazy Horse or Elvis Costello to The Attractions. He "gets" each member, and they, him. Except for the replacement of Ted Reichman with accordion/pianist Red Wierenga a few years ago, the ensemble is an ever active coterie. Hollenbeck's reliance on this inner circle makes Super Petite noteworthy.

Without four lieutenants, like Wierenga, clarinetist (doubling on tenor saxophone) Chris Speed, bassist Drew Gress, and vibraphonist Matt Moran these ten, mostly brief compositions could not be realized.

While the touchstone is jazz, Hollenbeck brings to Claudia African rhythms, New Music and minimalism, all spun into his tight web of sound. Take the less than two-minute "Pure Poem," based on Japanese poet Shigeru Matsui's conceptual number poem of the same name. The piece is more machine-driven in the Steve Reich/Philip Glass tradition, than say jazz. It does, though, have an internal sway, as if Hollenbeck occupied a clock factory. Both "JFK Beagle" and "Newark Beagle" build upon the same architecture. First, Hollenbeck and Moran framing the music, with Wierenga and Speed, and finally Moran soloing as a sort of building's ornamentation. Within the discipline of each composition, there is a hidden jazz message. Like "Nightbreak" based upon Charlie Parker's infamous break in "Night of Tunisia," (try and find it) and "Philly" which explodes off Philly Joe Jones' lick with an earnest tribute to bebop.

May the romance never end.

Track Listing: Nightbreak; JFK Beagle; A-List; Philly; Peterborough; Rose Colored Rhythm; If You Seek A Fox; Pure Poem; Newark Beagle; Mangold.

Personnel: Chris Speed: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Red Wierenga: accordion, piano; Drew Gress: acoustic bass; Matt Moran: vibraphone; John Hollenbeck: drums, composition.

Title: Super Petite | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records

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