The Claudia Quintet — September
(Cuneiform Rune 377, 2013, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2014-08-01John Hollenbeck and Company's latest collection of jazz-inflected chamber music is another winner from start to finish. For composer Hollenbeck, the month of September often features residencies or retreats in various locations, and is a particularly inspiring time of year. That inspiration shows in this set of tunes named for various days in the month, with some of the most creative and unusual arrangements yet for this consistently interesting ensemble. Red Wierenga's accordion is given a prominent role, as are Matt Moran's vibes, and the sax and clarinet of Chris Speed provide lovely colors. One of the most attention-grabbing pieces is "29th: 1936 'Me Warn You'", which takes a recording of a Franklin D. Roosevelt speech and extracts the rhythms and melodic tones of his voice as a melody, which the other instruments then use as material for their playing. It is both a brilliant intellectual achievement and an eminently entertaining experience. And it also makes me wonder if FDR was a particularly melodic public speaker, or if this procedure would also work on other famous speeches. All speculation aside, this group has carved out a niche with their distinctive instrumentation, using the diverse acoustic properties to great effect, contrasting the thin, reedy tone of the accordion with the bell-like tones of the vibraphone and the breath-driven reeds. Hollenbeck's drumming is outstanding as always, a fully equal partner in the arrangements rather than mere timekeeper — a happy result of the situation of the drummer being the composer. September is simply one of 2013's best releases, and would be a standout in any year.
Related artist(s): The Claudia Quintet
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more