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John Hollenbeck and the Claudia Quintet: Claudia’s Main Man

John Hollenbeck

While John Hollenbeck doesn’t think of himself as a jazz drummer, he’s one of the most inventive percussionists involved in the music, a bandleader who is actively expanding jazz’s possibilities with his various ensembles. In a career marked by a deep commitment to musical exploration, he’s collaborated widely with a diverse array of artists, such as multimedia performer Meredith Monk, klezmer clarinet master David Krakauer and the brilliant tango pianist Pablo Ziegler. Still, his ties to the jazz world are deep and strong, both through his work as an accompanist with creative outposts, such as Bob Brookmeyer’s New Art Orchestra and Jim McNeely’s Tentet, and as a bandleader of the remarkable Claudia Quintet and as the house composer for the Austrian-based Jazz Bigband Graz.

“Things that I do are jazz based,” Hollenbeck says. “I love jazz like someone would love a hobby. It’s there in my drumming, but I don’t really relate to it at all in my compositions. It’s just the closest place people can find me.” Whatever bin they happen to get filed under, the new Claudia Quintet CD, Semi-Formal (Cuneiform), and the recent John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble album, A Blessing (Omnitone), are often breathtaking sessions.

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