Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Orchestre National De Jazz - Shut Up And Dance: Music of John Hollenbeck (Bee Jazz, 2010)

Daniel Yvinec, artistic director of the Orchestre National De Jazz writes in his liner notes that he had the music of percussionist and composer John Hollenbeck in his thoughts for a long time, hearing him in his mind's eye and on the pages of his journal. He was finally able to persuade Hollenbeck to write a set of music for the group, and what results is a wildly colorful, dynamic suite of music that covers a lot of ground with echoes of Duke Ellington, but also those of Hollenbeck's own big band and Claudia Quintet. The music as a whole is distinctive, drawing on a variety of styles from jazz to classical, rock and pop. The proceedings are quite textural, infusing electronic instruments like the Fender Rhodes electric piano and electric guitar to alter the density of the performances and offer greater emotional depth. This can be heard particularly well on the electric piano feature "Tongs of Joy." Building to an epic conclusion, the medley "Boom/Bob Walk" is another highlight, an arena where composition, improvisation and instrumentalists become one in a torrid and beautiful dance, like the kind alluded to in the title. The music is beautifully performed and aptly named because it is danceable and accessible for all but the most curmudgeonly jazz fan. Shut Up And Dance -

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