Claudia Quintet For

Claudia Quintet For
A small band with seemingly limitless tonal variety, Claudia Quintet vividly bring the theories behind some of the 20th century’s leading classical composers to life with first-rate improvising and telepathic interplay. With the main roles devoted to vibes, accordion and clarinet, one might think this is just brainy chamber music. Leader/drummer John Hollenbeck is not only a master of propulsive rhythms in complicated settings but knows how to compose for the multifaceted ranges of the vibes, accordion and the talents of those who play them. The resulting tones are so seamless that the sounds of a larger ensemble, or even synthetic tones, are suggested. The compositions fit each member like perfectly tailored suits in pure Ellingtonian fashion. This band’s best soloist, ace clarinettist/tenorist Chris Speed, charts a course between the chords that’s both inside and outside, lending superb melodic invention to the grandiose compositions. Whether deconstructing Steve Reich or morphing into a Bulgarian wedding band, no twist or turn ever seems forced. If there’s one fault to their music it’s that they’re so consistent from song to song and disc to disc that it’s difficult to pick out the highlights in their repertoire. More bands should have this problem. (Cuneiform)