Kenny Wheeler, Rick Piltz and CQ news
Posted on November 4th, 2014

Kenny Wheeler Memorial

I was very honoured to be a part of the Kenny Wheeler Memorial Concert at St. James Church in London on October 31st. I first met Kenny in 1989 and recorded with him several times throughout the years. His music has been a guiding force in my life and playing with him, one of the highlights. Two years ago, Kenny was honored at the FONT Trumpet Festival in New York City and my large ensemble had the wonderful opportunity to play his newest music with him. It was an experience that everyone in the band will cherish forever.

As I walked into the church for the soundcheck/rehearsal for the memorial I heard Kenny’s own big band play the opening to Sweet Time Suite,  an iconic opening that I know has deeply influenced many musicians from that first moment they heard it. John Taylor as well as Norma Winstone performed Kenny’s smaller group music and in between the music Stan Sulzmann, Evan Parker, Dave Horler and John Taylor talked briefly and poignantly about the impact Kenny had on their lives. They all included some funny Kenny impressions of course! The service ended on a very powerful note, with the playing of Kenny’s solo trumpet piece from Around Six. After hearing all of these great musicians play his music and talk about him, it was that much more moving to hear Kenny at his best – I, like many others, have heard that piece before, but at this particular moment the utter emotional power and outright originality brought everyone to tears. The memorial was organised by Kenny’s right hand man, Nick Smart, who is already starting to work on a biography of one of the most original voices music has ever had.

Here is a short clip I made with my phone of the rehearsal of the opening of Sweet Time Suite:


Rick Piltz

Our planet lost an influential and courageous advocate when Rick Piltz passed away on October 18th.


He is known as the “climate whistleblower” for quitting his job with the White House and making it public how officials were trying to adjust/change and delete words of climate scientists. Since that time, he created the Climate Science Watch website, which is one of those rare online havens for the truth and facts, in this case about the climate debate.

I was lucky enough to met Rick a few years back at the Blue Mountain Center and was very surprised to learn that he was a big music fan and very knowledgeable about all kinds of music. He could just talk on and on about different concerts that he had gone to throughout his years, especially during the time he lived in Austin, TX.  I’m sure that his work was intense and probably very frustrating, so it was nice to see him so absorbed, talking about music with such passion. It was a great honor to have him in the audience at the JH Large Ensemble performance at Atlas in DC a few years ago. Thank you Rick for your important work and the courage and perseverance that it took to do it.


To read more about Rick in the NYTimes, click here.

and now on to CQ news…


WIST – GRAZ, Austria

KMKC Kompleks – RAVNE, Slovenia

Gromka – LJUBLJANA, Slovenia

Jazz Club Ferrara – FERRARA, Italy

Jazzkeller im Mautnerschloss – BURGHAUSEN, Germany

Jazz GUT Unterwegs Schwanenburg – HANNOVER, Germany

NOV 10
Liveclub Telegraph – LEIZIG, Germany

NOV 11
A-Trane – BERLIN, Germany



Video by Christopher Davenport featuring “Meinetwegen” from CQ’s first album.

“The film footage is from Hurricane Creek, a tributary of the Black Warrior River in Alabama. The creek is the geologic/geographic place where the Gulf Coastal Plain and Applachian mountains meet and is a fragile but fertile ecosystem. The fish in the film only exist in the creek. The Black Warrior River is one of the 10 most threatened rivers in the nation.”


Greetings from heaven…
Posted on September 1st, 2014


Greetings from heaven…heaven on earth I should say just to be clear…or as some people call it, The MacDowell Colony!

I have been living in the “Watson” cabin pictured above for the past 5 weeks with one more to go – eating great food, meeting amazing people, working 8+ hours per day, running, biking – I would go on but don’t want to make you jealous.  So instead, to distract you, here is a short video of my daily bike tour of the MacDowell Colony:

[The musical accompaniment is “Tongs of Joy” from the album Shut Up And Dance performed by Orchestre National de Jazz]


While not on the bike, I have been writing three new arrangements for a recording session in a few weeks with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band with the delicious Kate McGarry, the sumptuous Theo Bleckmann, and the delectable Uri Caine. Yes, I skipped lunch (bad idea).

What tunes am I arranging you ask?

Well since you asked: “How Can I Keep From Singing”, “The Snow is Deep” (my own composition from CQ’s What is the Beautiful?), and a de-rangement based on what I think the Russian Police Choir should have sounded like when they sang “Get Lucky” at the Sochi Olympic Games opening ceremony. We are also recording “True Colors”, “Close to You”, and “Up, Up and Away.” The album will be called Songs We Like A Lot and should be out in the spring.

The John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble with Theo and Kate will definitely be playing these new ones live at the next Newport Jazz Festival on July 31, 2015!


I’ve also been working on some new music for the Claudia Quintet. We’ll be performing in Boston, New York and close to Philadelphia:


>>> Wednesday, SEPTEMBER 24 - CAMBRIDGE, MA

8:00 PM

>>> Thursday, SEPTEMBER 25 – BROOKLYN, NY

THE CLAUDIA QUINTET + Anna Webber’s SIMPLE CD Release! (I hear the drummer in Anna’s trio is hot)
@ Shapeshifter Lab
7:00 PM


THE CLAUDIA QUINTET @ Camden County College
7:30 PM & FREE!!!!


From MacDowell, I go directly to the New England Conservatory where I’m teaching this semester for Ken Schaphorst, who is on sabbatical. In addition, the Claudia Quintet will be offering a masterclass at NEC during the day on September 24th. And here why this is such a special thing for me! (from the NEC press release which you can read in its entirety HERE):

“NEC has impacted my life as a musician/composer quite significantly over the course of my life,” says Hollenbeck. “I had an unforgettable rehearsal with George Russell and his Living Time Orchestra in the basement underneath Jordan Hall when I was 18. Two years later I heard/saw Ken Schaphorst conduct The True Colors Big Band with incredible players that I would later meet and play with professionally. Moving to NYC, I quickly realized that most of the musicians I felt to be kindred spirits had studied at NEC. The faculty at NEC past and present is extraordinary and among them are several of my heroes: my brother Pat Hollenbeck, George Russell, Jimmy Guiffre, Vic Firth, Bob Moses and my musical father, Bob Brookmeyer. It is an absolute honor to have this opportunity to teach for a semester and be surrounded by the NEC legacy.”    


I’m also very happy to be teaching at the next Creative Music Foundation Workshop at Full Moon Resort, located one half hour west of Woodstock, New York from SEPT 29 – OCT 3.

 “Intensive Workshops, Jam Sessions and Intimate Concerts in a Spectacular Mountainside SettingComposer/multi-reedist Marty Ehrlich, composer/drummer John Hollenbeck, Indian music masters Steve Gorn (flute) and Badal Roy (tabla) will join Creative Music Studio Artistic Directors/Co-founders Karl Berger and Ingrid Sertso as Guiding Artists for the CMS Fall Workshop intensive, September 29 – October 3, at the well-appointed Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, NY. “

Last but not least:

Team Hollenbeck along with ActiveColor is very close to unveiling a NEW WEBSITE! We’re very excited, working diligently away at it, and anticipate it’s arrival sometime soon during the month of September.


John’s Summer Blog
Posted on July 17th, 2014


From John Edward:

In Blogging for Dummies, I read that it is important to be active and consistently blog…never stop! Up until the last few months, I have been pretty good at keeping up, but recently I just needed some “alone” time.

(Disclaimer: while I imagine it does exist, I have never read Blogging for Dummies, which will become more apparent as you read on…)

Also, on April 1st, Jacques blew my cover so I had to hide out for a while. Jacques is fine by the way, but I did have to break his arms so that he, at least temporarily, couldn’t do what he did on that last blog. I should mention here that one should look closely at the date of the last blog in conjunction with what that day signifies around the world in order to truly understand if it is true or in fact a good joke. Enough said!

On the serious side, I have been just sick of the Internet, social media, and the blogosphere, so I needed to take a break, and also not add to the traffic that’s already out there for a while.

So now I’m back in my truest form to let you know what I’ve been up to in all the time I’ve saved by not hanging out on the Internet. Plus you’ll get a lot of ideas on topics you can bring up with me in conversation the next time we meet.

Berlin is a lively place with a lot of live music and events:

In past month I have seen/heard: Wye Oak, an indie-rock duo with “touches of noise and dream pop”; TuneYards, just look it up!; The Notwist, a popular German indie-rock band; Ben Frost’s Wasp Factory, a visually amazing production; Boris Chamatz’s ”20 dancers for the XX Century” at Treptower Park’s Soviet Memorial; Urban Sound Solar Art Installation in Tempelhofer Feld, a surround-sound experience in a vastly open space; Achim Kaufmann with Wilbert de Joode and Frank Gratkowski at a lovely house concert; Billy Hart Quartet, where I had the honor of packing up his drums with Joey Baron; Max Andrewski’s Hütte; the new incarnation of the ONJ; and Josef Dumoulin with Dan Weiss and Ellery Eskelin. My fingers were getting tired so feel free to ask me for more details about any of these that might interest you.

I also saw the David Bowie exhibit at the Martin-Gropius Haus and I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed this.

In the film category, we saw (I say we, because I’m usually accompanied by the lovely Kate Schroeder on these excursions): two recent documentaries on Ai Weiwei; a documentary about the Tiny house movement appropriately called Tiny; the exquisite and alarming Watermark; Jim Jarmursh’s Down by Law; and finally Boyhood (which we saw at a quintessential East German movie house on Karl Marx Allee). And a couple of these movies we were lucky enough to view at one of the many open-air movie festivals in Berlin in the summer – a perfect way to be outside but enjoy a good movie!

Speaking of good movies: I’m often asked about my time in Berlin and what I like about being here. Coming from a city like New York, what I always notice first about Berlin is the immense amount of open space when I look up in the sky and around me on ground level. The city has a relaxed vibrancy that feels healthy without being boring. One of my favorite things about Berlin is the incredible infrastructure of bike paths that make biking a fun and easy way to get to pretty much anywhere in the city.

To demonstrate this, I made a video to show my typical Berlin commute. For me, I appreciate being able to ride a bike considerably more than what my “normal” commute looks like, pictured below:




So without further fanfare here is “My Berlin Morning Commute”

(Dear Mother, I do not ride the bike this fast, I used fast motion to speed up the “boring” parts. Love, John)



UPCOMING SHOWS & whatnot  >>>

While Germany is still on my mind, this Sunday, July 20 at 3:05pm EST (which is 9:05pm Central European Time), DeutschlandFunk (German Radio) will be broadcasting the JOHN HOLLENBECK LARGE ENSEMBLE from our gig at Munich’s Unterfahrt Jazz Club in February.  To LIVE STREAM the concert, go to Deutschlandfunk live.

Back to America:

If you need your CLAUDIA QUINTET fix, we are performing a FREE CONCERT AT BRYANT PARK in Manhattan on August 8th at 6pm.

We will be performing our CMA commission, Royal Toast which features the quintet plus Matt Mitchell on piano.

Since I’m me, I have to go, but if I were you, I would definitely go!


In August, I’m lucky enough to be a MacDowell Fellow this summer, so I will be writing a whole bunch of new music while there for the Claudia Quintet, JHLE, JASS and more arrangements for the 2nd volume of Songs I Like A Lot (tentatively titled Songs We Like A Lot, which I know leaves me vulnerable to a volume 3, Songs You Like A Lot…which I guess could work out OK if “You” have similar tastes to “We” and “I”). This next volume, which we’ll be recording in Germany in September, is also with Theo Bleckmann, Kate McGarry and the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, plus we’ve got the great Uri Caine on this one!

After that, I will be back on US soil again for some Claudia gigs where we will be playing in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia in late September – more info to follow soon!

BTW, we will be in Florida in late February, 2015 (first time for the quintet…Florida in February!!)

And lastly, last week Jon Schaefer of WNYC fame did an enjoyable New Sounds show on Drummers/Bandleaders. It is an honor to have my name mentioned in the company of the other drummer/bandleaders he featured. The JHLE playing eternal interlude concludes the show.


That’s all for now. Jacques’ arms will be healed soon and he will be back on the keyboard, which I’m sure will make some of you happy…or happier.


Over and outish,



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