The Claudia Quintet
Thursday, Feb 10
$7 at the door
The Claudia Quintet is:
John Hollenbeck: composition/drums/percussion
Ted Reichman: accordion
Drew Gress: acoustic bass
Chris Speed: clarinet & tenor sax
Matt Moran: vibraphone
The Claudia Quintet’s 2nd release, "I, Claudia" demonstrates that "Innovative jazz does not have to be harsh, angry, loud, shrill or grating; it can be delicate, witty, ethereal and radiantly lyric, as the Claudia Quintet pointed out...." [Chicago Tribune]. Formed by composer/drummer John Hollenbeck in 1997, this New York ensemble creates music that explores the edge in a manner that captivates and enthralls novice listeners, and keeps experienced fans returning for more. ‘Claudia’s’ newest release, "I, Claudia" is a highly seductive work, ripe with compelling, propulsive grooves, dynamic sensitivity and telepathic improvisation.
In the words of Nate Chinen for the Philadelphia City Paper: "It’s impossible to classify The Claudia Quintet (postmodern- ethnic-ambient- chamber- jazz anyone?) but surprisingly easy to understand its language." Perhaps you could call it postjazz, for it is as carefully crafted as anything from contemporary classical music’s minimalist camp, and wouldn’t sound out of place played next to postrock acts such as Tortoise or Stereolab. As the NY Times stated recently: "if this music were a little bit dumber, it would resemble the music of the rock band Tortoise. No disrespect to Tortoise." "I think of it as party music for smart people," says Hollenbeck-though this is the farthest thing from a jam-band set. The solos are tightly structured, the tunes flow in and out of odd time signatures, and the melodic palette draws more from classical, Balkan, and Latin American colors than the predictable rock-funk mélange. Yet in truth, the ingredients are almost too diffuse to be isolated. "The way I write, hopefully, approaches some sort of universal music," says Hollenbeck. "It sounds like everything."
The Claudia Quintet is one of the most promising groups to emerge in recent years from ‘downtown’ NY’s new alt jazz scene, nourished by the venues alt.coffee and its successor, Tonic. The ensemble grew out of the Refuseniks, a collective trio consisting of John Hollenbeck (percussion), Ted Reichman (accordion), and Reuben Radding (bass), that played weekly at alt.coffee. After Radding left, Hollenbeck formed a quintet to perform his own compositions, which he named The Claudia Quintet. He named his quintet "Claudia", after an ephemeral and near-mythic Refusenik fan, because "I wanted to lose myself in the group - emphasizing the ensemble."
Over the past few years, John Hollenbeck has been making waves as one of NYC’s more versatile and passionate musician-composers. He moved to the city in the 1990s, as did The Claudia Quintet’s other members. With degrees in percussion (BM) and jazz composition (MM) from the Eastman School of Music, he has worked with numerous musicians in jazz (Kenny Wheeler, Village Vanguard Orchestra), ambient rock (Cuong Vu Trio), and ethnic music (David Krakauer’s Klezmer Madness; Pablo Ziegler). Besides his work with The Claudia Quintet and other projects, Hollenbeck currently tours and/or records with Theo Bleckmann, Bob Brookmeyer’s New Art Orchestra, Fred Hersch, Meredith Monk and Achim Kaufmann. Hollenbeck made his recorded debut as a composer in the winter of 2001/2002, when he released 3 critically acclaimed CDs on CRI/Blueshift: "no images" - An ambitious composer’s statement that Gary Giddins included in his "best jazz records of the year 2001" list in NYC’s Village Voice. The cast of star players - such as Ray Anderson, Ellery Eskelin, Ben Monder and Dave Liebman - meld into Hollenbeck’s appealing and unusual vision. The disc contains a fitting piece for Martin Luther King Jr. Day airplay - The Drum Major Instinct, a stirring and complex King speech set to equally stirring music by Hollenbeck. "quartet lucy" - "An emotional, spiritual exploration" Skuli Sverrisson, Jonas Tauber on bass and cello and reedsman Dan Willis add texture to a unit that is dominated by vocals (Theo Bleckmann) and percussion. Hollenbeck and Bleckmann forge an ethereal bond born of a long track record of working together on various projects. Hollenbeck has received numerous commissions, grants (NEA, Meet the Composer), and awards for compositions. His chamber piece, "The Cloud of Unknowing", was commissioned by the Bamberg Symphony Choir and issued by Berlin Classics. His Gil Evans Fellowship Commission, "A Blessing", premiered at the IAJE’s 2002 Conference and his IAJE/ASCAP Commission, "Folkmoot", premiered at its 2003 event. Hollenbeck was recently nominated as the "Up and Coming Jazz Musician of the Year" by the Jazz Journalists Association and a 2003 "Rising Star Composer" in Downbeat’s Critic’s Poll.
Drew Gress is one of NYC's most in-demand bassists, performing in numerous ensembles and currently playing with Tim Berne’s Paraphrase, Uri Caine, Don Byron, Fred Hersch Trio, Dave Douglas String Group, Marc Copland Trio, and many others. He has recorded with many artists, including Ray Anderson, Erik Friedlander, and Ellery Eskelin, and was a founding member of Joint Venture, a quartet with 3 albums on Enja. As a composer, Gress has received grants from NEA and Meet the Composer, and leads the group Jagged Sky (Soul Note) and Spin and Drift (Premonition).
Vibraphonist Matt Moran received an MM from the New England Conservatory of Music, studying jazz composition with Joseph Maneri. He leads the group Sideshow (songs of Charles Ives) and works with Mat Maneri Quintet, Butch Morris, Theo Bleckmann, and Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band. He has recorded and/or performed with numerous artists, including Lionel Hampton, Combustible Edison and Ellery Eskelin. Moran has received Meet the Composer grants, and recently composed a Balkan inspired piece, "Berance" (2001) for a BAM commission. He is a key figure in New York’s Balkan music scene, leading Slavic Soul Party, performing in Lefteris Bouranas and other traditional bands, teaching and curating a music series.
Woodwind player Chris Speed played piano and clarinet as a child, becoming interested in sax, jazz and improv in high school. Like Moran, he studied at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he co-founded the band Human Feel (New World/Countercurrents). Speed has worked in bands led by Tim Berne, Jim Black, Uri Caine, Dave Douglas, Myra Melford, Erik Friedlander, Mark Dresser, Ben Perowsky, Briggan Krauss, and others. He has recorded for such labels as Arabesque, BMG, Screwgun and Tzadik. In addition, Speed leads several bands with Jim Black and Skuli Sverrisson, including the Balkan-influenced Pachora (Knitting Factory), and Yeah, No (Songlines).
First trained on piano, Ted Reichman, began playing accordion while studying jazz at Wesleyan with Anthony Braxton. He has performed and recorded with countless artists, playing accordion in an astounding variety of music, including klezmer and avant-klezmer (w/ David Krakauer, Roberto Rodriquez), free (Anthony Braxton, Eugene Chadbourne, Marc Ribot), alt country (Sue Garner), and pop (Paul Simon), appearing on numerous recordings. Reichman has just released his first solo CD, Émigré, on John Zorn’s Tzadik.
For more information on:
The Claudia Quintet, & John Hollenbeck: www.johnhollenbeck.com