Throughout the decade of the 2000s, the Claudia Quintet recorded, toured, and became one of the top five progressive jazz units in the U.S. and the world. For 2010 they continue with Royal Toast, implying elegance and a golden brown, perfectly prepared, even buttery music. Percussionist/composer/bandleader John Hollenbeck has retained saxophonist and clarinetist Chris Speed, the piquant subtle vibraphonist Matt Moran, accordion specialist Ted Reichman, and the great bassist Drew Gress, adding special guest Gary Versace, not on organ but acoustic piano.
American drummer/composer John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet was one of the most acclaimed new jazz groups of the noughties – for the rich sound of a lineup combining accordion and vibraphone, for a broad vision combining global folk, Zappa-like rock, postbop and contemporary-classical elements, and for an ability to build shifting orchestral swells of collectively improvised sound from deceptive beginnings. Royal Toast adds pianist Gary Versace, introducing even more contrapuntal potential without over-thickening the stew, and releasing the remarkable Hollenbeck to play a freer textural role. The band's occasional Mothers of Invention sound surfaces in the brightly ducking-and-diving melody of Keramag Prelude, its postbop brittleness takes over with Chris Speed's blurting tenor sax on the staccato Paterna Terra, and the overlays of vibes motifs, sax riffing, flowing accordion improv and thunderous drumming makes Armitage Shanks (Hollenbeck likes loo-maker titles for some reason) a melodically mercurial triumph.
It's fun to grapple with music that doesn't fit a prescribed notion of genre-- it forces you to listen a little harder and think a little more about actual sound. For instance, I could call the Claudia Quintet "post-jazz" or something similar, but without getting into the details of the music, you wouldn't know what that means. "Jazz" itself is a term that doesn't mean a whole lot anymore without modifying it-- the tent pitched by the word is huge.
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM “This Is Happening” (DFA) James Murphy, the semicomic force behind the one-man dance-rock band LCD Soundsystem, has loaded himself up with broad, juicy aesthetic problems. He makes the nature of those problems pretty clear, and so his records radiate with anxiety. One problem is how to transfer the magic of one form to another. He admires the slow, additive, build-up-the-vibes process of an extended dance mix or a D.J.
A jazz group questioning the divide between genres and points in time. Kevin Le Gendre 2010 The buzz around this New York ensemble has grown to a roar over the last few years, which is a delicious irony given that The Claudia Quintet is often at its most affecting when playing sotto voce, as if content to whisper rather than bellow into the listener’s ear. The instrumentation partly explains this.