John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet
- $15 General Admission
- $5 Student
- Chris Speed, clarinet/tenor saxophone
- Red Wierenga, accordion/piano
- Chris Tordini, bass
- Matt Moran, vibraphone
- John Hollenbeck, drums/composition
The Claudia Quintet has walked a unique path in contemporary jazz since their founding in the late 1990s. Unlike most jazz ensembles where the particular musicians may come and go, drummer, composer and leader John Hollenbeck always wanted Claudia to be a ‘band’ with a sound not only determined by the compositions and the instrumentation, but with the actual players who perform the music. This concept is why Claudia has had an immediately identifiable sound since its inception. In that sound, the exceptional artistry and individuality of each musician is skillfully revealed throughout Hollenbeck’s original compositions.
Formed by Hollenbeck in 1997, this NYC ensemble’s sound continues to explore the edge without alienating the mainstream, proving that genre-defying music can be for everyone. The Claudia Quintet has amazed audiences from Alabama to the Amazon. Their singular sound has inspired dancing hippie girls at a New Mexico noise festival, the avant-garde cognoscenti in the concert halls of Vienna and Sao Paulo, and a generation of young musicians worldwide. In the course of the thousands of miles they have traveled 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.
Over the course of 15 years, the group has released eight CDs that are critically acclaimed worldwide and whose appeal extends well beyond, as well as includes, traditional jazz audiences. The group’s first album, “The Claudia Quintet,” was released in 2001 on the Blueshift CRI record label. The group has since established a long time relationship with the Cuneiform label, releasing seven albums with them.
Hollenbeck received a grant in 2009 from the Chamber Music America New Jazz Works: Commissioning and Ensemble Development program to compose a suite that can be heard on their fifth album, Royal Toast. The Claudia Quintet brings together the acclaimed compositional approach of Hollenbeck with two of the most important male singers in improvised music, Kurt Elling and Theo Bleckmann on their sixth album, What Is the Beautiful? The quintet was commissioned by the University of Rochester to set the work of Kenneth Patchen as part of their 100th birthday celebration of the groundbreaking poet. Elling and Bleckmann recite and sing the poems of avant-garde/proto-beat American poet, Patchen, an innovator in his time. Claudia’s latest release, Super Petite, is a potent package that condenses virtuoso playing and a wealth of ideas into ten compact songs.
The Claudia Quintet received grants from USArtists International/Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation to travel to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil for performances in the spring of 2002, and to Kathmandu, Nepal for performances in the Jazzmandu festival in the fall of 2013. The Claudia Quintet can be heard performing the theme music to Poetry Off the Shelf, a weekly audio program on PoetryFoundation.org. You can learn about how The Claudia Quintet got its name in the liner notes to their self-titled first CD, The Claudia Quintet.
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 (John Abercrombie, Uri Caine, Ravi Coltrane); Chris Tordini – frequent fill-in on bass (Andy Milne, Steve Lehman, Becca Stevens); Matt Moran – vibraphone (Slavic Soul Party, Mat Maneri, Nate Wooley); Red Wierenga – accordion (Respect Sextet, Signal, Brad Lubman); and Chris Speed – clarinet and tenor saxophone (Uri Caine, Endangered Blood, Alas No Axis).
The Edgefest schedule and line-up are subject to change. Please check back for continued updates.
Tickets to Edgefest are $10-$15 for individual ticketed events, with a limited number of student tickets ($5) available for most performances. An Edgepass ($160) is available, which allows for admission to all events, as well as a special dinner with our Edgefest artists.
See our Edgefest page for more information about the festival.
|Edgefest 20 is made possible through the generous sponsorship of The Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation, in honor of Maurice and Linda Binkow on the occasion of her 80th birthday and their 60th wedding anniversary.|
|Edgefest 20 is honored to receive a matching grant on ticket sales from the Robert D. Bielecki Foundation, including double for every new attendee.|
|Additional support for Edgefest is made possible in part by an awards from New Music USA, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works.|
|Additional support for the festival is also provided by The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, & Dance.|
Chris Speed is a composer, clarinetist and saxophonist, and is “one of the principal figures in a dynamic left-of-center jazz/improv scene in the city” (NYTimes). His own bands include Endangered Blood, Human Feel, yeah NO, Trio Iffy, Pachora and The Clarinets. He is a founding member of Jim Black’s Alas No Axis and John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet (two of the most influential working bands today), works with Uri Caine (deconstructing works by Mahler, Mozart, Bach, Schoenberg, Gershwin) and maintains a busy career of touring, recording, performing, composing, practicing and teaching. Current projects include work with Craig Taborn's Heroic Frenzies, Michael Formanek's Ensemble Kolossus, Dave King's Trucking Co., Matt Mitchell Quartet, Mary Halvorson's Reverse Blue, Banda de los Muertos (NYC’s only Banda band), as well as touring his latest project, Endangered Blood (with Black, Trevor Dunn and Oscar Noriega) which was featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts in 2012. (Endangered Blood 2010, Work Your Magic 2013 Skirl). “Speed’s Endangered Blood originals stand out as his most melodically generous, accessible and warm batch of compositions he’s yet to produce.” -DownBeat **** Read more.
Born in 1967, Speed grew up in the Seattle area where he met future colleagues Jim Black and Andrew D'Angelo, all of whom ended up in Boston in the late 80's where they formed Human Feel with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel. (Scatter 1992, Welcome to Malpesta 1994, Speak To It 1996, Galore 2007). While in Boston he studied at New England Conservatory and graduated in 1990. By 1992, after a short tour with the Artie Shaw Band (led by Dick Johnson), Speed moved to New York City where he started working with Tim Berne’s (now legendary touring band) Bloodcount. (Unwound 1996, Discretion 1997, Saturation Point 1997, The Seconds 2006).
Throughout the nineties his formidable improvisational approach on both tenor saxophone and clarinet contributed to other pioneering NYC bands including the Dave Douglas Sextet (Witness, Soul on Soul, Sanctuary, Stargazer, In Our Lifetime), Myra Melford’s Same River Twice (Above Blue, Where the Two Worlds Touch) John Zorn (Bar Kokhba, Trembling Before G-d) and Mark Dresser’s trio with Anthony Coleman.
As a member of Pachora (with Black, bassist Skuli Sverrisson, and guitarist Brad Shepik) Speed became known as one the leading NYC musicians adapting the odd time signatures and melodies of Balkan music into jazz-based music. Pachora was formed in 1992 to play music from Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, and Turkey, and evolved into an original music ensemble that toured North America and Europe extensively. (Astereotypical 2003, Ast 2000, Unn 1999, and Pachora 1997. His fluency with East European folk music is also documented with the more traditional Slavic Soul Party, which he was member of from 1996-2004. In addition to touring America, they spent 2 weeks in Macedonia with Rom musicians and recorded “In Makedonija” (Knitting Factory Records) at an underground radio station in Skopje.
His critically acclaimed improvisational trio The Clarinets (with Oscar Noriega and Anthony Burr and featured on NPR’s Fresh Air) explores the possibilities of the clarinet (multi-pitch tones, timbre deviation) in the context of group improvisation. This group blurs the boundary between composed chamber music and experimental improvisation and creates an acoustic ambient music of unusual grace and beauty. (The Clarinets 2006, Keep On Going Like This 2012)
Speed formed the band yeah NO in 1996 as an experiment in decoding and scoring out improvisations which inspired an unusual book of music that also fused elements of free jazz, modern rock, eastern folk and minimalism. After the debut record in 1997, they thrived in the center of new music in NYC, performing frequently at the previous Knitting Factory(s) and (the since closed) Tonic. They toured the States and Europe and have four recordings. (yeah NO 1996, Deviantics 1998, Emit 2000, Swell Henry 2004)
Speed was named the rising star clarinetist in Downbeat magazine for 2004, 2005 and 2006, was the recipient of a NEA composition grant in 1993, and in 2004 was the guest soloist at the Copenhagen International Jazz Festival working with over 10 different cutting edge Danish bands.
In April 2006, he launched Skirl Records, a label dedicated to Brooklyn based creative music, now with 31 releases. “As a document of the fertile Brooklyn scene, Skirl has few equals, skirting the boundaries between jazz, rock, electronic, classical and improvised music.” AllAboutJazz See less.
Red Wierenga is a pianist, accordionist, respectronicist, improviser, and composer based in New York City. His longest creative association is with the Respect Sextet, called “a group which has released one of the most compelling recordings of the year” by the Wall Street Journal and “one of the best and most ambitious new ensembles in jazz” by Signal To Noise.
He performs and records in a wide array of musical settings, from free improvisation, jazz, and new music to rock, pop, and world musics. Since 2011 he has been the accordionist in the Claudia Quintet. Wierenga also performs and records with David Crowell, Ensemble Signal, Salo, the Fireworks Ensemble, and many others.
As a creative musician and researcher, Wierenga is particularly concerned with improvisation and with electronic and electroacoustic sound. He interfaces acoustic instruments with electronics and builds physical devices for the control of electronic sound, producing new instruments and meta-instruments. He explores the continuum of performer control with new interfaces, parameter mapping, physical modeling, and microsound. He designs both his self-termed “respectronics” and his compositions to be conducive to improvisation. His software creations have been used in performances by musicians including Keith Rowe and Jim Black. Read more.
Wierenga received his Bachelor of Music in Jazz and Contemporary Media from the Eastman School of Music, where his teachers included Harold Danko, Ralph Alessi, and Kevin Puts. During his time at Eastman, Wierenga appeared as soloist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Eastman School Studio Orchestra, and Ossia, and performed in small group settings with Dave Holland, Wycliffe Gordon, Ben Monder, and others. At Eastman, Wierenga researched several lesser-known historical jazz pianists, including Richard Twardzik and Herbie Nichols, transcribing, arranging, and performing their music. In Rochester Wierenga served as on-air host on Jazz90.1, and performed regularly as a soloist and with the Respect Sextet, the Dave Rivello Ensemble, and the Red Wierenga Unit.
Wierenga studied electronic and computer music with Joel Ryan and Paul Berg, among others, at the Institute of Sonology at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, where he began to design and build physical interfaces for gestural control of electronic music, including the Respectron #1.
Since settling in New York City, Wierenga has continued to perform, compose, and develop a variety of software and hardware instruments. The Respectron #2 has seen use live and on recordings with the Respect Sextet, and the electronically-prepared piano appears on Figure, his duo album with the guitarist Ryan Ferreira. He composes for a variety of settings, from fixed media electronic music to concert music to jazz and improvisational forms. Recent works include Xylocybin, commissioned by Dr. Faustus and premiered by Jonathan Singer; apsiclodet, commissioned by guitarist Dieter Hennings; Death of a Soldier, written while composer-in-residence with the Contemporary Music Ensemble, CUNY Graduate Center; and O’er the Aether (or, Either or Either Either/Or or Either/Or), written for Either/Or. He has taught music appreciation and electronic music at Baruch College, and he directs the Brooklyn Electroacoustic Ensemble at Brooklyn College. He is an Enhanced Chancellor’s Fellow and doctoral candidate in composition at CUNY Graduate Center, where he has studied with Jason Eckardt and Douglas Geers. Wierenga is completing his dissertation on uses of musical instruments in electroacoustic improvisation, under the supervision of David Grubbs. See less.
Christopher Tordini is a bassist on the New York music scene, where he performs with established jazz icons as well as a diverse range of emerging musicians. He has toured and recorded with Andy Milne’s Dapp Theory and has also played and recorded in bands led by artists such as Greg Osby, Jeremy Pelt, Ari Hoening, Steve Lehman, Jim Black, Andrew D’Angelo, and the Becca Stevens Band. Tordini is also a collaborator in projects led by drummer/composer Tyshawn Sorey and trombonist/composer Michael Dessen.
Vibraphonist and tunesmith Matt Moran "plays the vibraphone like a speed-chess master, always darting off into flurries of ingenious, unexpected activity" (Village Voice). He has performed and recorded with artists as diverse as Mat Maneri, Lionel Hampton, Combustible Edison, Ellery Eskelin, and Saban Bajramovic. Moran's sound is integral to an innovative group of New York musicians who blur the boundaries of composition, improvisation, and folk traditions. Read more.
Moran received a Master's degree in jazz composition from New England Conservatory in 1995. At NEC he studied with the visionary composer and multi-instrumentalist Joseph Maneri, and has continued to learn from Maneri through performances with him. Since moving to New York in 1995 he has performed both as leader and sideman, including billings for the Knitting Factory's What Is Jazz? Festival, the JVC Jazz Festival, the Panasonic Village Jazz Festival, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, and the Vision Festival, as well as leading tours in the U.S. and Europe.
TimeOut New York praises Moran and his collaborators for "such unusual breadth and wonderful inconsistency that calling it simply 'jazz' paints it into an inaccurate corner. Their performances don't focus on displays of whirring virtuosity (though that's certainly a part) or even on the nebulous quality of 'soul.' Instead, the musicians attempt to work beyond or outside the patterns to which they would ordinarily gravitate."
Also active as a performer, teacher, and curator in the Balkan folk music scene, Moran plays traditional percussion with artists such as Lefteris Bournias, Raif Hyseni, Demetri Tashie, and other master musicians from the Balkans who have immigrated to New York. With Slavic Soul Party!, he sparked "Balkan Cabaret", a downtown music series for Balkan and Balkan-inspired music.
Moran currently leads the groups Sideshow and Slavic Soul Party! He is also active performing and recording with John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet, the Mat Maneri Quintet, Theo Bleckmann, Dan Levin, Nate Wooley, Kavala Brass Band, and Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band. See less.
It’s traditional, when paying compliment to drummers, to draw comparisons with the octopus, implying agility beyond the means of a paltry pair of human hands. But when considering John Hollenbeck, the multi-limbed creature that seems most appropriate to invoke is the mythical hydra; for while Hollenbeck is certainly no stranger to rhythmic intricacy, it’s ideas that seem to spring forth like so many heads, two more arising as one falls away.
Hollenbeck is a composer of music uncategorizable beyond the fact of being always identifiably his. A conceptualist able to translate the traditions of jazz and new music into a fresh, eclectic, forward-looking language of his own invention, intellectually rewarding yet ever accessibly vibrant. A drummer and percussionist possessed of a playful versatility and a virtuosic wit. Most of all, a musical thinker – whether putting pen to paper or conjuring spontaneous sound – allergic to repetition, forever seeking to surprise himself and his audiences. Read more.
The prolific and unpredictable nature of Hollenbeck’s output has been evident since he first emerged as a leader in late 2001, releasing four completely different albums within a matter of months. Three of them (Quartet Lucy, the duo CD Static Still, and no images, featuring several different configurations) introduced the partnership of Hollenbeck and iconoclastic vocalist Theo Bleckmann, who continue to collaborate in a variety of offbeat settings. Along with keyboardist Gary Versace, they form the Refuge Trio, as boundary-free a small group as one is likely to find.
The last of that initial burst of creativity was the self-titled debut of the Claudia Quintet, Hollenbeck’s longest-running ensemble. Over the course of its seven CDs, Claudia has cemented its reputation as one of the most innovative and adaptable units in modern jazz, so deftly attuned to one another that Hollenbeck’s most dizzying compositional leaps are taken with an air of playfulness and skewed humor. Claudia’s latest release, Super Petite, is a potent package that condenses virtuoso playing and a wealth of ideas into ten compact songs.
Claudia has received grants from the Chamber Music America New Jazz Works: Commissioning and Ensemble Development program to compose a suite which was recorded for 2009’s Royal Toast, and from Arts International and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation to travel to Brazil and Nepal for performances. The quintet was commissioned by the University of Rochester to set the work of Kenneth Patchen as part of their 100th birthday celebration of the ground-breaking poet, which can be heard on the 2011 release What Is the Beautiful?, featuring vocals by Theo Bleckmann and Kurt Elling. The Claudia Quintet can also be heard performing the theme music to Poetry Off the Shelf, a weekly audio program on PoetryFoundation.org.
Hollenbeck has been acclaimed for his unique twist on big band music – most notably through the work of the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, which trades the gale force blowing of most such bands for a multi-hued palette of tonal colors and rich, evocative atmospheres. The JHLE received Grammy nominations for both of its releases: A Blessing in 2006 and eternal interlude in 2009. John was nominated again in 2014 for his arrangement of Jimmy Webb’s “The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress” from the album Songs I Like a Lot, commissioned and recorded by the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, featuring vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckmann and pianist Gary Versace. That album and its companion piece, 2015’s Songs We Like a Lot, puckishly reimagine pop songs by the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Daft Punk, Queen and Burt Bacharach with big band arrangements, transforming familiar songs with surprising insight and audacious wit.
The composer’s large-band pieces have also been recorded by Austria’s Jazz Bigband Graz on 2006’s critically-acclaimed Joys and Desires. In 2010, the CMA/FACE French-American Jazz Exchange Program awarded Hollenbeck a grant to develop work with Daniel Yvinec and the Orchestre National de Jazz of France, resulting in the release of Shut up and Dance (Bee Jazz), which included the Grammy-nominated composition “Falling Men.”
If these projects can safely be termed “jazz” (at least by those comfortable with the label’s more progressive interpretations), they should by no means be taken as indicating that Hollenbeck’s output is limited to even that genre’s most elastic borders. His growing body of commissioned compositions relate just as obliquely to the “new music” tag, exemplifying his ability to not so much defy categorization as to evolve beyond its necessity. One of Hollenbeck’s earliest appearances on record was as the composer of “The Shape of Spirit,” a piece for wind ensemble issued on the Mons label in 1998. The following year he composed “Processional and Desiderata” for wind ensemble and orator (released by Challenge Records in 2001), written for and featuring the voice and trombone of John’s mentor, Bob Brookmeyer.
John’s piece “The Cloud of Unknowing,” commissioned by the Bamberg Choir in Germany, fit comfortably alongside works by J.S. Bach, Igor Stravinsky & Paul Hindemith when it was released in 2001 on the Edel Classics label, while his 2004 chamber piece “Demütig Bitten,” commissioned by Germany’s Windsbacher Knabenchor, was released on the Rondeau label along with works by Giovanni Gabrieli, Josquin des Prez and J.S. Bach (again). In 2002, his IAJE Gil Evans Fellowship Commission piece, “A Blessing,” featuring Theo Bleckmann’s stunning vocals, was performed to critical acclaim at the IAJE Conference; and in 2003 his IAJE/ASCAP Commission, “Folkmoot,” was premiered in Toronto, Canada.
In 2009, John compiled several recordings of his chamber pieces on the CD Rainbow Jimmies, made possible by his 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship. The disc includes commissions by Bang on a Can and the People’s Commissioning Fund; Ethos Percussion Group funded by the Jerome Foundation; Youngstown State University; and a piece written for the Claudia Quintet’s cross-cultural educational journey to Istanbul, commissioned by the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall. Hollenbeck’s other notable works include commissions by Melbourne Jazz Festival; Edinburgh Jazz Festival; University of the Arts, Philadelphia; and Ensemble Cairn, Paris, France.
Hollenbeck received degrees in percussion and jazz composition from the Eastman School of Music before moving to New York City in the early 1990s. He was profoundly shaped by the mentorship of two hugely influential artists: trombonist/arranger/composer Bob Brookmeyer and composer/choreographer Meredith Monk. His relationship with Brookmeyer reached back to the age of 14, when he attended the SUNY Binghamton Summer Jazz Workshop, and continued at Eastman, through NEA-funded composition study, and finally on the bandstand with Brookmeyer’s New Art Orchestra and in the studio with Brookmeyer and trumpet great Kenny Wheeler. For Monk, Hollenbeck composed and performed the percussion scores for five of her works: “Magic Frequencies,” “Mercy,” “The Impermanence Project,” “Songs of Ascension” and “On Behalf of Nature.”
Hollenbeck’s awards and honors include four Grammy nominations; the 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, the 2010 ASCAP Jazz Vanguard Award and a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship; winning the Jazz Composers Alliance Composition Contest in 1995 and 2002; Meet the Composer’s Grants in 1995 and 2001; and a Rising Star Arranger win in the 2012 and 2013 DownBeat Critics’ Polls as well as in 2011 for the JHLE as Rising Star Big Band. John was a professor of Jazz Drums and Improvisation at the Jazz Institute Berlin from 2005-2016 and in 2015 joined the faculty of McGill University’s Schulich School of Music. See less.