Nomination, Domination, and the Return of Misty Hymen

These words have been brought to you by Jacques Swartz, Chronicler of John. Jacques would like to reaffirm for all interested parties that he is not, in fact, Mr. John Hollenbeck, nor is he Mr. Hollenbeck’s imaginary alter-ego, but rather a fully discrete being in his own right.All queries, complaints, kind remarks and general feedback regarding this blog may be directed to Jacques at

Claudia Quintet LIVE_8390_©Signe Maehler

CQ live at A-Trane, Berlin. Photo courtesy Signe Maehler


We here at Camp Hollenbeck are very proud to announce that John has received a Grammy nomination for his arrangement of Jimmy Webb’s “The Moon’s A Harsh Mistress.” The tune appears on Songs I Like A Lot, and features Gary Versace on the piano and organ, and Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckmann on vocals with the Frankfurt Radio BigBand. In the afore linked-to article, All About Jazz’s John Kelman calls it “positively IMAX;” he recently selected it as one of 2013’s “top recorded events in Jazz and beyond,” while his colleague C. Michael Bailey did likewise.  It is, to use the old critic’s saw, a nom quite richly deserved. Listen to it here:

Not that we’re counting, but this will be John’s fourth Grammy nomination, following Large Ensemble’s A Blessing and eternal interlude, and “Falling Men,” off Shut Up and Dance, John’s 2010 collaboration with Daniel Yvinec and Orchestre National de Jazz.

You can check out the category in full here (and begin petitioning your local affiliate today to broadcast the granting of the instrumental awards, so often relegated offscreen!)


Even into December, CQ’s latest, September, still finds its lovers multiplying. DownBeat’s John Corbett gave it four stars, citing its “miraculous little sonic universes.” In fact, three out of four DB critics gave it four stars in this month’s HotBox. Ralph Miriello chose it for his 2013 Jazz Journalists Association ‘best of’ list.  Jazz Times dubbed it “one of [John’s] most forceful and immediate efforts.” Irish Times proclaims it, “what music will sound like 100 years from now.” John Kelman And it is eMusic’s Pick of the Week, there described as “A curiously warped beauty, one that captivates as smartly as it challenges.”

The group’s live performances have not escaped notice either, including happy dispatched from Ian Patterson at All About Jazz and Gary Kelly at Culture Northern Ireland. Simon Adams at the Jazz Journal finds John “always an adventurous musician, pushing at the compositional limits,” while John Fordham said of CQ’s performance alongside the Royal Academy of Music’s Big Band that it “confirmed [Claudia] as one of jazz’s world leaders in the subtle balance of improv and composition.”

The strong response has even gone beyond English alone, with Ettore Garzia speaking of “Fra le esperienze più gustose e valide del jazz,” and Sergio Piccirilli of El Intruso praising the group’s performance at the Angel City Jazz Fest with: “Final para un concierto que -debido a su elocuente creatividad y viva representación de la “metamorfosis” experimentada por el jazz en el nuevo milenio– será muy difícil de olvidar.” Meanwhile friends in Paris sent us this CHOC, reproduced below from the December issue of Jazz Magazine.

Grazie, Graçias, and Merci bien.



Video artists, filmmakers, motionographers of every shade: if listening to Claudia finds you catching the creative spirit, bring your ideas to video life, and send a link where we can view them to We will feature our favorites on YouTube and all across the Hollenbeck Internet as testaments to artistic procreation—and, to make it a true contest, we’ll award a prize of $250 to our #1 pick. The deadline for submission is January 31st.

And now, allow us to present the latest in the Claudia Quintet Video Project: Mr. Ryan Dight, interpreting “Misty Hymen” from I, Claudia.


Good news: New Yorkers in need of a Hollenbeck fix need wait only until the new year. In their surpassing wisdom, the curatorial minds at Cornelia Street Café have programmed an entire weekend John Hollenbeck Fest.

CLAUDIA QUINTET will perform:

Thursday, January 9th at 8:30&10:00pm

Friday, January 10th, at 9&10:30pm.

Then, on Saturday, January 11th, at 9&10:30pm, John rejoins Theo Bleckmann and Gary Versace as REFUGE TRIO.

That’s no fewer than FIVE live Hollenbeck opportunities. Those seeking tickets would do well to call 212.989.9319 to make reservations…and arrive early!