The_claudia_quintet_span3
December 2007

The Claudia Quintet
For
Cuneiform Records

John Hollenbeck’s compositions draw upon various types of vernacular and art music, not the least pronounced of which is Reichian minimalism. Good for Hollenbeck. Minimalism shares with certain forms of jazz an obsession with groove-based repetition; too few forward-thinking jazz composers have availed themselves of its techniques. Matt Moran’s vibes go a long ways toward emphasizing the Reich connection on tunes like “I’m So Fickin’ Cool” and “August 5th, 2006.” The group (Hollenbeck, drums and percussion; Moran, vibes; Chris Speed, sax and clarinet; Drew Gress, bass; Ted Reichman, accordion) is as tight as the elaborately composed pieces require. Gress is the perfect bassist for the band. His lithe chops and solid time provide the necessary grounding for Hollenbeck’s rhythmically intricate, motivically based pieces. Lest I overstate the minimalist connection, the band also explores other areas. For example, “This Too Shall Pass” is a slow, bluesy jazz-rock ballad, “Rug Boy” is a high-energy free-jazz blowout, and “For You” successfully utilizes digital processing and nonidiomatic free improvisation. The works are uniformly well performed. Music so elaborately conceived requires a great deal of preparation, not to mention skill. Certainly, Hollenbeck and company were up to the task.

Originally published in December 2007
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