(Cuneiform)

In a way, this group’s material is built upon paradox; at a first glance, it could sound pretty “simple” to the ears of many obsessive new music aficionados who only live for endangered rhythmical species and finger contortions. Give it a coupla (make that three, or four) attentive tries and think again, as under the appearance of sheer “linear” themes or minimalist repetitions there’s a puzzling world of details and structures that, taken as a whole, furnish the compositions with the richness that’s typical of a great “progressive” band mixing contemporary jazz, Reich, Piazzolla and Bulgarian folk played with the same attitude of a technically hyper-advanced bionic busker. “For” is Claudia’s fourth CD – note the title’s pun – each of its tracks being dedicated to someone, famous or not (check for yourself). Besides the well-known percussive bravura of leader’s John Hollenbeck who – incidentally – penned all the pieces, lots of kudos should ideally go to Ted Reichman, whose accordion is the real protagonist of compelling situations ranging from the melancholia-tinged immateriality (“This too shall pass”) to the plain virtuosity (“Be happy”). These notations must not detract from the astounding musicianship and adroitness of the other Claudians (Drew Gress on bass, Matt Moran on vibraphone and Chris Speed on clarinet and tenor sax) completing the line-up of an ensemble that acts as the perfect trait d’union between the necessity of something complex and the will of relaxing the nerves every once in a while, still without being able of actually lowering our guard, given that a circuitous construction can always be lurking behind the corner of a single-note melody. Don’t worry if you can’t find a definition for the Claudia Quintet; just rejoice for their newborn creature, as these guys are extremely serious in what they do. Furthermore, Kate accepted John’s proposal.

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