Harmonious Sonnets

​Review of John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet at Cornish College of Arts' Music Series


Whizz boom bang ba dum, chhh… bop bop! If you’re into jazz, this is for you!

Imagine walking into a forest and hearing nothing but birds, then someone else who was listening wrote all those noises down all on pages and pages of music. Now imagine an insane jazz quintet using those ideas to create amazing music! It is hard to express in words how I feel about John Hollenbeck’s music. Sophistication wrapped in harmonious sonnets.

From the get go, the jazz is heavy. Rough new terrain unlike anything you’ve experienced. I remember sitting in my seat thinking “WOW!” “How does anyone think of this stuff?!” The Claudia Quintet is a mysterious, intriguing conglomerate of so many up-and-coming ideas in music! A must-see for music lovers (and even for the experience itself)!

Even for days after the performance you will still be in awe. Chris Speed, the quintet’s saxophonist, has the sheer power to grab an audience and make them feel what he wants. The message of the quintet is a little hard to decipher, though. This is not an instantly gratifying performance at its heart but it is moving, perception-altering and worth so much in so many ways.

Hollenbeck provides a fresh perspective on tonality and jazz. He drums with such conviction and passion. He is a funny human being (he said funny stuff between tunes). He is an innovator. He makes great music. He is a prolific genius.

The quintet, the experience, the tone all contribute to a worthwhile performance. People of all backgrounds and levels of musicality will take away something unique. Just watching the chemistry on stage is enlightening. Expect to have your mind blown with surprising twists and turns.

Open your mind.

Throw structure out the window,

And enjoy the jazz!

John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet was a one-night event, but you can catch Dave Douglas Quintet and The Westerlies this Saturday, October 12th at Cornish's PONCHO Hall. Tickets are $5 at the door for TeenTix members.

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