John Hollenbeck

Known for his work as the leader of the Claudia Quintet and his contributions to veteran trombonist Bob Brookmeyer's New Art Orchestra, John Hollenbeck has shown himself to a very intuitive and far-reaching drummer, percussionist and composer who can handle a variety of jazz situations -- some of them avant-garde and left-of-center, some of them more mainstream (by jazz standards). Hollenbeck, who is a native and resident of New York City and is associated with the experimental Downtown Manhattan music scene, brings an inside/outside perspective to the table. Hollenbeck is comfortable with outside expression and has been influenced by free jazz, but he has also been affected by ECM Records' catalog and is equally comfortable playing more accessible post-bop. The long list of people Hollenbeck has played with in the '90s or 2000s underscores his versatility and broad-mindedness; that list ranges from pianist Fred Hersch (who has a strong Bill Evans influence) to Vietnamese trumpeter Cuong Vu and singer/pianist Theo Bleckmann. And even though jazz is Hollenbeck's primary focus, the drummer has played with some non-jazz groups as well (including New York clarinetist David Krakauer's risk-taking Klezmer Madness! and a group led by trumpeter Frank London, who was a founding member of the Klezmatics). Hollenbeck is jazz-oriented without being a jazz snob; he also appreciates everything from the European classical tradition to a variety of Latin music. After recording with a lot of musicians as a sideman in the '90s, Hollenbeck began to build a catalog of his own in the early 2000s when recorded some albums for Blueshift/CRI: No Images and Quartet Lucy. The early 2000s were also when Hollenbeck recorded some albums with his Claudia Quintet, which has employed Chris Speed on tenor sax and clarinet, Matt Moran on vibes, Ted Reichman on accordion and Drew Gress on acoustic bass. That group's albums have included 2002's The Claudia Quintet on Blueshift/CRI and 2004's I, Claudia on Cuneiform.
Alex Henderson, Rovi

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