John Hollenbeck Claudia Quintet, Super Petite (Cuneiform)
Hollenbeck’s little band has unity of thought, purpose and execution more often found in long-lived classical ensembles than in jazz. The difference, of course, is improvisation. Yet, Hollenbeck’s skills as composer-arranger, leader and drummer are so finely honed that it is often a challenge to differentiate between his canny orchestration and all-out blowing. Listeners who let Claudia’s music wash over them, pick them up and carry them along are likely to disregard the difference and find the immersion rewarding. “Nightbreak,” Hollenbeck’s drastically slowed adaptation of the famous alto break from Charlie Parker’s 1946 “A Night In Tunisia,” opens the album. So profound a transformation deserves the critical attention it’s getting. Indeed, the entire album deserves it. Reed artist Chris Speed, accordionist Red Wierenga, vibraphonist Matt Moran and bassist Drew Gress are superb throughout. Hollenbeck’s multicolored drumming and Speed’s tenor saxophone soar on “Philly.