October 2007

Philadelphia Art Alliance251 S. 18th Street
Philadelphia, PA Map
Price: $12 General Admission
Thursday, October 11, 2007 - 8:00pm

The Claudia Quintet

Chris Speed, clarinet + tenor saxophone
Gary Versace, organ bass
Ted Reichman, accordian
Matt Moran, vibraphone + percussion
John Hollenbeck, drums + composition

Please join us for the record release celebration for For (Cuneiform), the new CD by the Claudia Quintet, the genre-defying band led by Grammy-nominated composer John Hollenbeck.

Since Hollenbeck first presented the band in an internet cafe on Avenue A in Manhattan in 1997, the Claudia Quintet has amazed audiences from Alabamato to the Amazon. Their unique sound has inspired dancing hippie girls at a New Mexico noise festival, the avant-garde cognoscenti in the concert halls of Vienna and Sao Paolo, and a generation of young musicians worldwide. In the course of the thousands of miles they have travelled together and hundreds of concerts they've played, the Claudia Quintet has evolved and grown, developing a dynamic live sound based on trust and spontaneity. They bring this powerful energy into the studio, where they record the old-fashioned way, live, playing as a band. The legions of people who have been won over by the music of the Claudia Quintet live and on CD attest to the fact that genre-defying new music need not be "inaccessible."

Building on the popular and critical success of their previous CDs, The Claudia Quintet (CRI, 2001), I, Claudia (Cuneiform, 2004), and Semi-Formal (Cuneiform, 2005), For continues Hollenbeck's startling development as a composer. John Hollenbeck is a leader of a new generation of musicians who have brought together many disparate threads of contemporary music to create a new sound. They embrace the textural freedom of electronic sounds and improvisation, the structural ambition of contemporary classical music, and most importantly, the joy of bodacious grooves and unapologetically gorgeous melodies. In the Claudia Quintet, Hollenbeck has assembled a group of the foremost innovators in this new sound to create a powerhouse band. They are: Drew Gress, bass (Tim Berne, Uri Caine, Ravi Coltrane), Matt Moran, vibraphone (Slavic Soul Party, Mat Maneri, Theo Bleckmann), Ted Reichman, accordion (Anthony Braxton, Marc Ribot, Paul Simon), and Chris Speed, clarinet and tenor saxophone (Human Feel, Bloodcount, Alas No Axis).

Using acoustic instruments - accordion, clarinet, tenor saxophone, upright bass, vibraphone, and drums - the Claudia Quintet's sound on For ranges from the outer reaches of electronic ambient music, as in "For You," to the subtle interaction of chamber music ("August 5th," "Pass"), to the cathartic expression of free jazz ("Rug Boy"), and of course the mind-bogglingly grooving combinations of all of the above (plus much more) that is their trademark ("Cool," "Be Happy"). And in a nod to contemporary sampling culture and his youthful musical obsessions, Hollenbeck has included "Rainy Days/Peanut Vendor Mashup," a combination of the Carpenters hit "Rainy Days and Mondays" and Stan Kenton's arrangement of "The Peanut Vendor."

But despite its mercurial versatility, this music is not just technical sophistication and post-modern genre-hopping. In For, Hollenbeck has created a "musical offering" in tribute to those who have touched his life, some in unusual ways. Teachers, fellow musicians, friends, and family are among the dedicatees, but so are S.N. Goenka (Vipassana meditation founder) and Mary Cheney (Dick's daughter). These connections reflect the emotional and spiritual expression at the core of Hollenbeck's aesthetic. The music of the Claudia Quintet is heartfelt, joyous and thought-provoking.