featuring John Hollenbeck, drums, compositions, Chris Speed, clarinet and tenor saxophone, Matt Moran, vibraphone, Red Wierenga, accordion and Drew Gress, bass,Gateway City Arts, 92 Race St., Holyoke, MA
Composer, percussionist and four-time Grammy nominee John Hollenbeck is renowned in both jazz and new-music worlds. He has gained widespread recognition as the driving force behind the unclassifiable Claudia Quintet and the ambitious John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, groups with roots in jazz, world music, and contemporary composition. He is well known in new-music circles for his longtime collaboration with Meredith Monk and has worked with many of the world’s leading musicians in jazz including Bob Brookmeyer, Fred Hersch, and Tony Malaby.
“While Hollenbeck employs virtuoso drumming in full service of his compositions, a closer listen reveals him to be a sparkling rhythmic engine, capable of driving the ensemble with supple grace,” writes Downbeat.
Hollenbeck is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the ASCAP Jazz Vanguard Award, and a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. His most notable works include commissions by Bang on a Can All-Stars, Ethos Percussion Group, Melbourne Jazz Festival, University of Rochester, Ensemble Cairn, Orchestre National de Jazz, and Frankfurt Radio Big Band. Since 2005, he has been a professor of Jazz Drums and Improvisation at the Jazz Institute Berlin and joined McGill University Schulich School of Music’s faculty in 2015.
Short doesn’t necessarily mean simple. Hollenbeck acrobatically explores the dichotomy between brevity and complexity on Super Petite (2016, Cuneiform Records,) the eighth release by the Claudia Quintet. The title captures the essence of its ten new compositions, which pack all of the wit and virtuosity that listeners have come to expect from the Claudia Quintet into the time frame of radio-friendly pop songs. Over the course of 19 years, the band has forged an astounding chemistry and become expert at juggling mind-boggling dexterity with inviting emotion and spirit.
“The interplay of the Claudias has been magical for a few years now,” writes Jim Macnie about the Quintet’s previous release, September, “but the eye-opener here is the intrepid nature of Hollenbeck’s compositional sense. It’s simultaneously more refined and more far-reaching on these pieces, and it’s the main reason the disc is so enchanting as a whole.”