John Hollenbeck Claudia Quintet + 1 Live From Newport
A powerhouse behind the drum kit, John Hollenbeck is also becoming one of the great composer-bandleaders of the age. After last year's large ensemble show, he returns to Newport with his unusual small group, the Claudia Quintet (and a sixth member on piano). The band's latest release What Is The Beautiful? sets poems by Kenneth Patchen to music; much like the album, vocalists Kurt Elling and Theo Bleckmann stand and deliver on stage.
Boston's esteemed Berklee College of Music, just up the road from Newport, has produced top jazz musicians for decades. Driven by the leadership of Panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez, the school has expanded its jazz vision internationally, developing an initiative to recruit from and bring on tour around the world. Berklee's current Global Jazz Ambassadors are joined here by professional musician Adam Cruz, whose shimmering 2011 debut album Milestone showed off his talent both in front of the band and behind the drum kit.
It may be billed as a gig for the alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, who is making his third Newport appearance in four years, but he would refuse complete credit. He teamed up with the French pianist Laurent Coq to co-write an album's worth of music inspired on the high-modernist Julio Cortázar novel Hopscotch — Rayuela, in the original Spanish. It calls for a cello and a trombone — Dana Leong plays both — and a drummer who can play tablas, so an obvious choice was Dan Weiss. Together, the quartet's literary and musical imagination runs wild.
What if there were lost big-band masterpieces by the great composer/arranger Gil Evans which never made it to record? In fact, there are plenty of them, according to composer/arranger Ryan Truesdell. He's culled, researched, transcribed and completed a handful of the best for Evans' 100th birthday anniversary. It helps that he's the lead copyist for composer Maria Schneider; he's borrowed much of her orchestra to record and now perform this rich, intensely-hued material.
Yuval (saxophone), Anat (reeds) and Avishai (trumpet) Cohen are siblings from Israel. They're also among the growing number of terrific jazz musicians from that country; Anat and Avishai have both had bookings for their own bands at Newport in recent years. Naturally, the three Cohens occasionally record and perform together as a band, whose original pieces and arrangements are supported by a rhythm section. It's a family reunion you won't secretly dread.
"Blues For Dandi's Orange Bull Chasing An Orange Sack"