Thursday, August 19, 2021

The Claudia Quintet with special guest: Eileen Myles - Evidence​-​Based (September 3, 2021)

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
― George Orwell, 1984

The story of the album starts in 2017, when the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) outraged many by apparently banning seven words from use in their official documents: "evidence-based," "transgender," "entitlement," "fetus," "diversity," "science-based," and "vulnerable." It subsequently turned out the words were discouraged rather than banned, but by then the onslaught of the news cycle had already pushed the story out of public awareness. Hollenbeck paid attention.

"The CDC has become very important," Hollenbeck said, "and we've seen the repercussions of politicizing the CDC during the pandemic. At some point I realized this story that everyone forgot about is relevant to what we're all dealing with right now."

Hollenbeck started out by using six of the seven words as the titles of new pieces. His musical transliterations of the terms range from punning ("Evidence-Based" contains rhythmic elements from Thelonious Monk's "Evidence") to direct ("Fetus" has a soundscape that sounds womb-like) to aspirational ("Transgender" takes a very loaded word and places it in a gentle, beautiful setting).

Hollenbeck met poet Eileen Myles several years ago when both were in residence at the MacDowell Colony artists retreat. He contacted Myles and asked them to collaborate. Myles described the process:

"The first thing I received was the vocabulary list," Myles said, "which ended up being the titles of each of the things I wrote. Some time after that John gave me rough cuts of the tracks. I liked the music a lot, so that was great news. I do a lot of things at once all the time, and so sometimes the way to focus is to get the hell out of town. So I went up to Provincetown [MA] for the weekend and listened to the music a lot and took a lot of notes and tried to create a reality in which these pieces had some meaning."

Myles's poems (or "talks" as they call them, to pair them with the music created by the band) are, for the most part, not direct statements about either the CDC story or even the usual meaning of the words themselves. Instead they offer yet another lens on language and its use, one that compliments Hollenbeck's music.

"A piece of music always has a vibe and a pace and a context and a momentum," said Myles. "So I wanted to imagine occupying that in a different way. Sometimes John would indicate 'from this moment in the cut to this moment is where i imagine you,' so that contributed to the size or the amount of language I was going to construct. Because the words refer to a kind of government, I felt like I had to be inventing a government in which these texts would occur."

The current membership of the Claudia Quintet is Hollenbeck on drums, tenor saxophonist Chris Speed, bassist Drew Gress, Matt Moran on vibraphone and Red Wierenga on accordion and piano. Gress and Wierenga also added an electronic score for "Fetus." The band has been together for a long time, though Hollenbeck notes that as they age and get married and have kids, the challenges mount for the ensemble. Despite those difficulties, or maybe because of them, the band sounds committed and cohesive and exciting on Evidence-Based.
John Hollenbeck

The new album is being released on Flexatonic Records, the label attached to Hollenbeck's nonprofit Flexatonic Arts. It's part of a plan to bring all of Hollenbeck's albums under one label.

"I've been gathering up all of my releases from various labels," Hollenbeck said. "Some of the labels didn't exist anymore anyway. We'll be releasing all these records on Bandcamp, the preferred platform for musicians at the moment. Our first release was Songs You Like A Lot. Evidence-Based is the second release overall and the first by the Claudia Quintet. We're going to simultaneously re-release two of our older records, Super Petite and our other poetry record, What Is The Beautiful."

Besides being a direct comment on a particular news story, Evidence-Based also tackles, by its existence, the idea of how the arts and politics interact.

Said Myles: "I betray my politics all the time in my work. There's no way to keep the conditions of our moment out of the work. It's impossible. It's like using specific details of people's names and locations. You can choose to be abstract and not drop points on the map but why? Everybody knows you're on the map. It doesn't matter if I know the name of the tree but the name of the street might be nice. I think the specificity of politics is exciting and edgy to include. I don't have to but I can't help it. "

Hollenbeck is on the same page: "I think you can't avoid it and shouldn't avoid it. I don't want to come down on people but I find you can provide some information or a different way to look at the same thing. The music is aspirational. I'm not in a vacuum. I'm hearing all the news everyone else is hearing. Then I go into the practice room or the composing room and it's not like that stuff goes away."

In many ways, our current social, technological and political conditions have already left Orwell's 1984 far behind. As we grapple with this new world, we need artists to help us find our center, to assist us in navigating the minefield. With Evidence-Based, Hollenbeck offers us a compass and a map. We all end up feeling a little less lost.

Jason Crane

1. Evidence-based
2. Son of...
3. Transgender
4. Entitlement
5. Fetus
6. Diversity
7. Nice Tune
8. What is the name of this piece?


Special guest: Eileen Myles: “talk”

The Claudia Quintet is:
Chris Speed: clarinet/tenor sax
recorded in North Atwater Village, Los Angeles California.

Red Wierenga: accordions, electronics (on fetus)
Accordion recorded at his mother-in-law's basement in Toms River, New Jersey; piano recorded at his apartment in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York

Matt Moran: vibraphone
recorded in the music room on Van Buren St, Brooklyn when no one else was home

Drew Gress: acoustic bass, electronics (on fetus)
recorded at Merriewold Lake Studios, South Blooming Grove, NY

John Hollenbeck: drums, percussion, electronics (on fetus), composition

Recorded in E-323 (Schulich School of Music) Montréal, Canada

Produced by John Hollenbeck
Mixing Engineer: Andy Taub, Brooklyn Recording
Mastering: Brent Lambert, Kitchen Mastering
Design: karlssonwilker

Compositions by John Hollenbeck - Grand Blvd Music ASCAP/GEMA
“Talk” by Eileen Myles (unpublished)
All rights of the manufacturer and of the owner of the recorded work reserved. Unauthorized copying, public performance, broadcasting and file sharing of this recording prohibited
© 2021 John Hollenbeck Flexatonic Records

Abbey Rader & John McMinn - Two as One (September 14, 2021)

Abbey Rader:

This music is a testament to the pure, spiritual connection between John and I. After 30 years of playing together we were forced to stop due to the pandemic. Fortunately, we emerged and this album captures our best interaction yet.

It’s my hope that you listen with an empty mind and allow the music to come through you, just as it comes from the higher source through us.

John McMinn:

This music comes from forces bigger than us. It’s not commercial. It’s pure, sincere, and honest. We continue to play together on the same roadway. Abbey is a highly knowledgeable musician who loves and respects what we’re playing.

I want those who know the music to continue listening and people who aren’t familiar to keep an open mind and accept our endeavors and artistry.

1. Rejoiceful Reunion
2. Inner Vision
3. Diss & Dass
4. To the Masters Before
5. Defending the Gate
6. Rhythm of My Birth
7. Repentance
8. Form Is Emptiness
9. Gone Gone Gone Beyond
10. Awake So Be It

"Two as One" was fully improvised in Miami, FL on June 13 & 14, 2021

Abbey Rader – Drum Set, Ashiko, Percussion
John McMinn – Tenor & Alto Sax, Piano, Percussion

Abbey plays Gretsch drums, Zildjian cymbals and Pro-Mark sticks

Recording & mix:
Jorge Rubiera

Steve Davis - Bolivia (August 19, 2021)

Drummer Steve Davis has performed with David Liebman, Bill Evans, Richie Beirach, John Pattitucci, Walt Weiskopf, Benny Golson, Ira Sullivan and Lynne Arriale. He has over 170 recordings to his credit, including 8 of his own. Other recording credits include work with Walt Weiskopf, Conrad Herwig, Richie Beirach, Bill Evans, Kenny Werner, John Pattitucci, Manfredo Fest, and Andy LaVerne. 

1. Bolivia 05:13
2. Blue Daniel 04:22
3. Black Nile 06:11
4. Naima 05:27
5. All Things 04:46
6. Andes 05:11
7. Caravan 04:33
8. A Blue Bossa 04:03

Jon Boutellier - On Both Sides of the Atlantic! (August 2021 Gaya Music Productions)

Big band leader and soloist extraordinaire Jon Boutellier is a New York based saxophonist and composer.

Surrounded by jazz since his childhood, he turned this musical language into the work of his life: writing, arranging and playing with talented musicians all over the world.

1. Black 07:51
2. Blue Rose 04:12
3. Maybe September (feat. Kirk Lightsey) 08:33
4. Save That Time (feat Célia Kameni & Kirk Lightsey) 04:55
5. Nice & Nasty 05:01
6. Quiet Sides 06:15
7. 1974 Blues 05:00
8. We'll Be Together Again 05:00
9. Yesterdays 05:03
10. Blues on the Corner 06:39

Jon Boutellier – Tenor Saxophone 
Alexander Claffy – Bass
Kyle Poole – Drums
Célia Kameni – Vocals on track 4
Kirk Lightsey – Piano on track 3, 4 & 10 
Jean-Paul Estievenart – Trumpet on track 1, 2, 4 & 10  

Produced by Jon Boutellier
Recorded at Studio de Meudon, France, on December 11 & 12, 2018 
ngineered, mixed and mastered by Julien Bassères  
Music Consultant Fred Nardin

CCJA (Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts) - Joey Pearlman Original Music Project Vol. 1 (August 2021)

CCJA is a unique non-profit organization dedicated to empowering youth to creatively express themselves through the language of jazz.

The Joey Pearlman Original Music Project was created in the Spring of 2021 to give local Colorado musicians a chance to compose and record original music in honor of CCJA alumnus Joey Pearlman.

This compilation features one tune from each band that recorded.

1. Larimer 06:25
2. Dreamscape (For Joey) 08:23
3. The Flapping Wings of Flying Things 05:18
4. Indigo Sun 08:54
5. Song For Joey 05:22
6. Bacterial 08:02
7. For Joey 07:18
8. Pearlman 07:19
9. This One's For Joey 05:21

"Larimer" - Jack Dunlevie, Jean-Luc Davis, Kevin Matthews, Gabe Mervine, Peter Sommer

"Dreamscape (for Joey)" - Annie Booth, Hunter Roberts, Max Bessesen, Alejandro Castaño, Gabe Mervine, Matteo Bassani

"The Flapping Wings of Flying Things" - Sonya Walker, Bijoux Barbosa, Michel Stali, Gabe Mervine

"Indigo Sun" - Joe Anderies, Stevie Pearlman, Alex Heffron, Ike Spivak, Rocco Williams, Bijoux Barbosa

"Song For Joey" - Camilla Vaitaitis, Colin Stranahan, Anisha Rush, Patrick McDevitt

"Bacterial" - Rico Jones, Alex Heffron, Hunter Roberts, Tom Amend, Braxton Kahn

"For Joey" - Daryl Gott, Tom Amend, Greg Harris, Dru Heller, Gabe Mervine

"Pearlman" - Ben Thompson, Jonathan Zimny, Brian Woodbury, David Bernot, Gonzalo Teppa, Michael D'Angelo

"This One's For Joey" - Keith Oxman, Todd Reid, Jeff Jenkins, Mark Simon

Recorded and Engineered at Mighty Fine Productions in Denver, Colin Bricker, Kevin Lee, Xandy Whitesel