Composer and percussionist John Hollenbeck leads a 19-person experimental jazz ensemble well beyond traditional big band swing-era clichés.
BEFORE YOU PRESS PLAY:
Hometown: Berlin, Germany where he moved recently after 15-years in New York City.
The Facts: John Hollenbeck is a versatile jazz composer and percussionist whose work includes small group drumming (Fred Hersh, Kenny Wheeler, Jeff Campbell), world music explorations (working with the Klezmatics David Krakauer, Antonio Arned in Colombia, and Fernando Tarres in Argentina); chamber jazz with the Claudia Quintet, and here commanding 18-piece large jazz ensemble. “The band's lineup is virtually the same since the beginning,” explains Hollenbeck. “I’ve known some people in the band since high school and a lot since college.”
The Sound: Luminescent experimental jazz big band unafraid to delve into avant-garde cacophony, stop-on-a-dime rhythmic dynamics or melodious vocal jazz. Check out Theo Bleckmann’s mellifluous baritone on “A Blessing” (9:25), the capricious playfulness on “Abstinence” (30:10), or Hollenbeck’s powerful and accomplished drumming on “Foreign One” (3:40 ).
Latest Release: “Eternal Interlude” on Sunnyside (nominated for a Grammy)
He Said/She Said: “John Hollenbeck’s Large Ensemble suggested an ideal of big-band postmodernity, playing the leader’s heady compositions and arrangements but also showcasing the bandleader as a powerhouse drummer. On “A Blessing,” Ensemble vocalist Theo Bleckmann’s range and the crystalline quality of his instrument were staggering.” - Evan Haga, Jazz Times
“Leave it to John Hollenbeck to bring a bona fide big band into (Le) Poisson Rouge for a 40-minute set. We are not complaining. On “A Blessing,” Hollenbeck created a wall of sound with interlocking orchestral parts that filled every square inch of the jam-packed club. The big-band feel was refreshing at a festival that mostly stuck to small-ensemble groups.” - Joe DeFranceschi, Time Out
Undead Jazzfest Setlist: