by The Claudia Quintet
Cuneiform Records, Silver Spring, MD,
Audio CD, 8 tracks, 6142".
Cuneiform Rune 247
Reviewed by Stefaan Van Ryssen
The Claudia Quintet (Drew Gressdouble
bass, John Hollenbeckdrums,
composition, Matt Moranvibraphone,
percussion, Ted Reichmanaccordion,
Chris Speedclarinet, tenor
saxophone) was founded in 1997 and has
released four albums so far. This, its
fourth, includes eight compositions by
its founder John Hollenbeck, each one
dedicated to someone or other; so they
are all for
, hence its
The New York based quintet aims first
and foremost at a recognisable and unique
sound. The rather unusual but certainly
no longer exceptional accordion and some
of the added taped backgrounds, indeed,
add a certain peculiarity, without really
moving the band into the realm of experimental
or supposedly futuristic music. Overall
they present a cautious extension of what
a loungey jazz ensemble should sound like.
The same goes for their compositions.
Staying within the general axioms of jazz,
they succeed in unprovocatively exploring
its borders in several directions: towards
the idioms of minimal, post-rock and electronic
music. Probably eclectic is
the best word to describe the final result.
The most interesting track by far is called
For you (number 6). It is
appropriately dedicated to the listener,
as it also offers the most rewarding listening
experience. Melodic and harmonic instrumental
snips move slowly against the backdrop
of an electronic tape prepared by Hollenbeck,
while the countdown-like voice of Matt
Moran adds an intriguing meta-rhythm.
At the end, one definitely feels they
urge to say thank you, Claudia.
These thanks are due because of the undeniable
mastership of the musicians, which is
for this listener the most memorable aspect
of the album.
By the way, the Quintet takes its name
from a one-time fan called Claudia. The
whole story, if not apocryphal, is told
at Hollenbecks website: www.johnhollenbeck.com.