Wednesday, August 19, 2009

John Hollenbeck - Rainbow Jimmies (GPE Records, 2009)

This is an interesting collection by percussionist and composer John Hollenbeck presenting music that was written for various commissions over the past couple of years. Utilizing a small trio, percussion ensemble and his most famous group, the Claudia Quintet, this presents a well rounded introduction to a fascinating musician. The disc opens with a seven part suite called "Grey Cottage Study" with short vignettes for a trio of Todd Reynolds on violin, Matt Moran on vibraphone and Hollenbeck on drums. While much of the suite is moody and melancholy, during the sixth piece, "Dustish," the music becomes more propulsive with sawing violin and percussive vibraphone accents. "Sinanari (Acoustic Remix)" by The Claudia Quintet was my favorite track on the album, this group has Chris Speed on clarinet and tenor saxophone, Matt Moran on vibraphone and percussion, Drew Gress on bass and Hollenbeck on drums. The track has a cool and soulful sound with clarinet and vibes meshing nicely over a funky backbeat. The other Claudia Quintet track is "Rainbow Jimmies" which sets up an interesting droning feel before giving way to a snarling electric guitar solo from guest Mark Stewart. "Ziggurat" is a composition in two parts, "Interior" featuring The Youngstown Percussion Collective and Saxophone Quartet giving the music a funky and immediate feel with shifting percussion and musicians yelling encouragement. "Exterior" features the Ethos Percussion Group getting a fun and slightly kooky sound adding some ringing bells to the mix. While at first blush this seems like an "odds and sods" collection, there's a lot more here than tying up loose ends. The album gives a nice introduction of Hollenbeck's musical conception that draws from jazz and classical and also gives examples of the breadth of his compositional vision.
Rainbow Jimmies -

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