Claudia Quintet - September
“Rich with ambition and empathetic interplay...the Claudia Quintet doesn’t...sound like anybody else. Which is exactly what makes them worth seeking out.” — Los Angeles Times
Led by composer, drummer and three-time Grammy nominee John Hollenbeck, The Claudia Quintet have quietly but firmly and definitively recast jazz into shimmering new shapes inflected by classical minimalism, new music, progressive rock and post-rock. They are one of the most influential stylists on other musicians in cutting-edge jazz today and the sound of jazz and what jazz can be in the in our time has changed because of their sound and stance.
Hailed by Nate Chinen of the New York Times for their “clockwork intricacy and crisp premeditation ... [striking an] accord between the factions of progressive jazz, classical Minimalism and low-glare experimental rock,” the Claudia Quintet tackles Hollenbeck’s highly demanding works with a wry improvising spirit and a backbone of surging, mesmerizing rhythm.
Their new album, September, the group's seventh, pays homage to a time of year when Hollenbeck seeks the isolation and creative focus of artist residencies. In the last dozen years — often in September — he’s spent invaluable time at retreats in places as far afield as Italy, New Mexico and upstate New York. Writes Hollenbeck in the liner notes: "September is a wonderful month and, for me, the equivalent of Thursday, my favorite day of the week which I celebrated in song on the first Claudia Quintet CD!"
In the lineup are two newer players: accordionist Red Wierenga, like Hollenbeck an alum of the Eastman School of Music; and (on four tracks) bassist Chris Tordini, a frequent sub for Claudia’s original bassist Drew Gress. Hugely in-demand as a sideman and an inspired bandleader in his own right, Gress appears on six of the 10 tracks that make up September.
Clarinetist/tenor saxophonist Chris Speed and vibraphonist Matt Moran, both Claudia members from the start, play with stirring virtuosity and give Hollenbeck’s writing a sonorous warmth, balancing its more technical and rocking side. Unorthodox textures, fragmented beats and “bright tones filled with folky allusions and plaintive undercurrents” (Siddhartha Mitter, Boston Globe) continue to define the Claudia Quintet’s unclassifiable output.
September marks another departure in that Hollenbeck chose "to create music for the Claudia Quintet that could be communicated and performed without the use of written music." The fact that Hollenbeck taught these labyrinthine pieces to the band largely by ear makes the polish and cohesion all the more astonishing.
Celebrating 15 years of work together with the release of September, this NYC ensemble’s sound continues to explore the edge without alienating the mainstream, proving that genre-defying music can be for everyone.