Pre-Ordering The Future

(“the many reeds of the JHLE” — photo courtesy Mr. Jason Linnell)
End-of-year listmaking is a (perhaps even THE) venerable tradition in American cultural criticism, occasioning as it does such a sweeping and easily-digested review of the preceding year’s highlights. “Remember that one!” we can all exclaim together. Or, perhaps, “Wow, was I living under a rock this year, avant-garde musical comedy-wise, or what?” End-of-year lists are the greatest.
Despite that his music tends to resist morsel-sized blurbing, John is of course no stranger to end-of-year lists. A couple of our favorites this time around:
In ARTFORUM, composer-pianist-standardbearer Jason Moran’s Top 10 Live Music Experiences (title mine), which deserves mention if only for taking its basis not in recorded music, but live performances he experienced. This is one of the coolest things we can learn about a musician we love: they like watching other cool musicians too. Case in point, JM was a big fan of JHLE’s performance at Newport this year, listing in #10, just a few spots down from none other than Azaelia Banks. Man of diverse tastes. You can peep that list in its entirety here.
Of course National Public Radio has no shortage of love for the Hollencrew, as evidenced in this year’s pick for vocal maestro Theo Bleckmann’s excellent reframing of Kate Bush tunes, “Hello Earth: The Music of Kate Bush”. You see that list, read a blurb on Theo’s latest (which features John on drums (who else?)), and even listen to a sampling of song, at NPR Music’s ever-more elegant site here.

In case you’ve been dozing on our previous installments, you’d best be aware that John’s latest record, Songs I Like A Lot, is fast on its way. The album contains a smattering of favorite music from Jimmy Webb, Ornette Coleman, Imogen Heap, Freddie Mercury, and others, all rearranged and scrambled by John. It features Frankfurt Radio BigBand, Theo Bleckmann, Kate McGarry, and Gary Versace—and you can PRE-OWN it now.

That’s right, why wait for conventional in-the-moment ownership, not available until January, when you can fast forward into future tense and PRE-OWN the record today?
Pre-order the CD before release on January 29, 2013, and you’ll ALSO receive a digital download of the album on or around January 29. Not only that, but in the immediate term, you get a free download of “Canvas,” the Imogen Heap offering of the album. The link to do so is this familiar website here:  http://johnhollenbeck.bandcamp.com/album/songs-i-like-a-lot-2

What’s that you say? No more Compact Discs in your life? No worries, you can pre-order the digital-only version from iTunes here: http://bitly.com/12CmQy9
Cliff Bellamy has already (p)reviewed it for The Herald Sun, and, yes, you should be jealous he got to hear it. Not only did he dig the tunes, but his writeup bespeaks deepset access to the man himself, as it contains many nuggets of golden Hollinsight. Have yourself a click here, and glean some extra liner notes to tide you over as you enjoy the many benefits of pre-ownership.
John’s got a brand new piece for Gotham Wind Symphony being recorded on January 6th and 7th at an undisclosed (and many believe literally underground) location. It will be entitled “…Can’t Hide Love Mantra,” based on an Earth, Wind and Fire tune. Doesn’t that sound rad?
When he emerges, John will have a brief respite before lending his sticks to MEREDITH MONK: A Benefit for Roulette on January 10th. As the name suggests, John, MM, and others will band together to raise money for the excellent and weird-friendly Brooklyn venue Roulette. You can buy tickets at levels ranging from the patronly to the plebeian right here.  
Then, time for a brief jaunt over with the Tony Malaby Tuba Trio (yes) and many others at on January 12, to participate in Winter
Jazz Fest; you can buy tickets (and see who all else is playing) here.
Finally, across the country back nestled in Monkland, John joins the Meredith Monk Vocal Ensemble for the world premiere of On Behalf of Nature, Monk’s “latest evening-length work.” Performances are January 18-20 at UCLAbuy tickets today and then go fly West for Winter!
Last but not least: Don’t you want to look at JHLE’s tour pictures? I know I couldn’t make it to the tour, and maybe you coudln’t either. Have a look at some tour pictures, on us.



Touring, Treats, and Internal Workings

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 johnhollenwebpr@gmail.com



here once again is the cover of the new album by the Frankfurt Radio BigBand with Theo Bleckmann, Kate McGarry & Gary Versace playing tunes and arrangements by John. cue: excitement.

as the name suggests, the record features personal arrangements of treasured gems by everyone from Ornette Coleman to Imogen Heap. how cool is that?

Cooler still: next week JHLE will shlep mightily thro’ the Eastern Seaboard, appearing with Theo and Kate & playing songs off the new record at shows in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, North Carolina, Virginia and New York.


 and finally on December 10th

Hollenfriends of NYC and most notably, Brooklyn,  can join in at Roulette, see the band, support your local transdisciplinary new music performance center, and impress your children by going out on a monday night.

Tickets, info, and an array of elegant b&w photography can be found at their website here.


before we can see John here in America again, he first had to serve a grueling tour in such places as Paris and Caen. the latest from the front?

“there were awesome gigs with nice crowds!”

good to hear it, soldier. story goes they were even so bold as to try out a brand-spanking piece, “September 9th”
It’s the first in a series of un-notated tunes, learnt by rote, deftly digested and infinitely reconstituted.

John, again:

Because my music is usually not short or simple, learning it by rote is difficult.
What it means visually is NO MUSIC STANDS. Also the music will be IN us, so hopefully it will be more liquid after we get to know it.
How we actually learn the music is something that we are figuring out. But for the first attempt, we learned the piece a phrase at a time.
It is actually written down for posterity and in case we forget it, but during the learning process the guys did not want to see the music, they made their own notes to help them remember.



Pre-empting the annual james bond marathon in greater brazil this week was the Buenos Aires Jazz Festival Internacional, starring john hollenbeck in two roles: conductor of the conservatory’s MANUEL DE FALLA BIG BAND and percussionist/bandleader, local killer quintet in tow, in a double bill with the KIRK LIGHTSEY TRÍO. As you can see from these photos it was no less a racy and suave affair than The Living Daylights.


a blog supreme got that new compass and JH is on it.

also check out john’s recent interview with The Thread, released in two parts:

I. Stories about making music with Meredith Monk, plus a Theo Bleckmann origin story:

II. Good phrases for weird problems, like how to talk about genre, and why a large ensemble is not the same as a big band.

[Reader poll: what cardinal direction would John be? NNE? respond in the comments section below or mail your submissions to HQ]


nice-looking young men in black t-shirts play “ziggurat (interior)”


Gramophone Season (and Other Diversions)

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 johnhollenwebpr@gmail.com

As autumn’s taut chill nips amidst the tumbling leaves, quite naturally our thoughts turn once again to the Recording Academy Grammy Awards. And even though Grammy.com’s Gucci-sponsored countdown widget reminds us it’s still over 111 days away, now is the time when ye anointed few must elect Grammy’s nominees. So for all of you not privileged with Recording Industry Suffrage (and may be right now wondering aloud, “you mean they actually vote on these?”) bear with us while we stump for John’s latest greatnesses.

Up this year for your consideration: What is the Beautiful?, a lovely and imminently buyable record by Claudia Quintet + 1, as well as “What is the Beautiful?” which is (you guessed it) title track from that very album.

For further elaboration and gently kind super-nudging, we invite you visit this link from proud label-parent Cuneiform Records here.

Need we mention voting ends October 31st? Oh look, we just did!



What, as if we’re surprised about this? And that there’s an album, too? For this you emailed your poor mother in the middle of the night? And why is it you only call when you need something?

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, Claudia Quintet goes charging through France, in Paris on November 11th, then in Caen on November 13th. Hit those links for tickets, information, and verifiable proof.

Now. This is the cover of the new album by Frankfurt Radio BigBand with Theo Bleckmann, Kate McGarry & Gary Versace playing tunes and arrangements by John! Yes, it should indeed excite you.

In December, JHLE will sweep the Eastern Seaboard, appearing with Theo and Kate & playing songs off the new record at shows in New York, North Carolina, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. We’d like to call particular attention to this smashing night at Roulette in (of all places) Brooklyn. Tickets, info, and repeatable maxims all may be found at their website. FUN.



After exile to what was surely a gruesome 4 weeks of residence at Liguria Study Center, John has left behind two artifacts, etched into digital ink for us to steep in and contemplate.

The first, entitled “I’m a Lucky Girl,” details in photographs John and Lady Kate’s sartorial narrative throughout literally dozens of dinners for which they had to dress in fancy attire. Kate looks lovely, but it is the array of blazers and ties in play that truly impress on the eyeballs. See for yourself.

The second—well, better left to John to describe:

my studio was overlooking this awesome tennis court…..so after a few weeks I could not help myself….I came up with a serial system based on the tennis court itself…..then I applied it as a test to these three Jimmy Connors rallies.

So far so good!

The view from John’s studio

And the resulting video

For max enjoyment, do heed those instructions: As. Loud. As. Possible.



We close this time, as we sometimes do, with audience participation: Three instruments and one man, at play in “The Snow is Deep on the Ground”, covered from CQ+1’s What is the Beautiful. Enjoy:



Newport Memories, Shapeshifters, and Sweet 15

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 johnhollenwebpr@gmail.com


I chose to end the weekend on a quiet, if forceful note at the Harbor Stage: drummer John Hollenbeck’s augmented Claudia Quintet, which mixed the leader’s motoric rhythms and lyrical melodies with the love poetry of Kenneth Patchen. Theo Bleckman sang, and Kurt Elling — guesting after leading his own razzle-dazzle, foot-stomping set at the Quad — recited. Aside from Hollenbeck’s drums, the band included Matt Moran’s vibes, Red Wierenga’s accordion, Matt Mitchell’s piano, and Chris Speed’s clarinet and tenor sax. Patchen’s poems were funny and profane. The audience laughed and even grooved a bit. It was like some long-ago imaginary jazz café. And for a while at least, the music was good and the weather didn’t matter.

There it came, there it went. Another Newport Jazz Fest sailed through inclemency and delivered generous and beautiful music to the assembled masses. You can read more of Boston Phoenix’s Jon Garelick writing on the festival and thus find yourself nearly in his shoes. And if you happened to actually be there? Please, tell us about it! Leave a comment below, or email JohnHollenWebPR@gmail.com with your recollections and impressions from the afternoon John Came to Providence.

And now for some photos.

Photos credited to Mr. Hal S., who remarked that “With the pictures I took…you might guess one reason I was at Newport was to document everyone together”

…and while you are indulging telephotically, may we recommend you visit these lovely samplings from Claudia’s performance at Shapeshifter Lab. In addition to the always stimulating sight of CQ+1, you can see modern dance magicians Abigail Levine, Ellen

Fisher and their respective companies also in motion. Check out these photos, courtesy of Dave Kaufman, here.

John Hollenbeck, you just finished a multi-band, multi-season, multi-nation tour, culminating in America’s greatest Jazz gathering. What are you going to do now?

His answer?

10 day silence.  No phone, internet, paper, pen, books and no communication—definitely my idea of ideal!. It was a meditation retreat I just came from.

Vipassana meditation, check out……dhamma.org


There you have it. Deliberate, thoroughgoing remove from the world at large and an outstanding inwards turn. Not quite “I’m going to Disneyland!”…Unless you’re John. Something to ponder as we flit from screen to screen in search of freedom…


John would like to congratulate and wish mighty luck to Juilian Külpmann and Martin Krümmling, one current and one former student, both recently announced as semifinalists for the 2012 Monk Competition. The competition focuses each year on a different instrument and this year will give awards for excellence in Drums and Composers (something about which all involved know much). Out of 12 semifinalists, Juilian & Martin are the only two from Germany.

Viel Erfolg!

Did you know this year Claudia Quintet will be 15 years old? So far CQ seems to be managing puberty pretty well. The zits have been few, the growth spurts spastic and marvelous, and the change in voice moves ever-deeper with nary a squeak to be heard.

To celebrate turning 15, John has decided that starting in September he will be releasing for download one cut every month from his extensive library of live Claudia gigs. As anyone who’s seen them knows, this means the chance to own (and listen to, and re-listen to) a familiar yet strikingly parallel sonic experience that will augment and enrich any Claudia fan’s library of Hollensound.


Watch this space.

We conclude with a link for an interview John recently gave to The Voice Magazine, A Publication of the Athabasca University Students’ Union. More insight into the man and his process, not to mention proof positive that greatness does not discriminate in its generosity of attention, whether on Alberta’s Voice Magazine or Manhattan’s Village Voice…

Check it out; go in peace.

Newport Nears + DownBeat Poll 77

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 johnhollenwebpr@gmail.com


Newport is Even More Nigh Now

Preferably you have already made arrangements to rid yourself of material possessions and join Claudia Quintet+1 on the waters of NewportAugust 5th is the day, Rhode Island is the place. For those still fence perching, do the next right thing & click here. Therein are tickets to a place you’ll want to be—trust us. And, in a grand gesture of halfway meeting, the Jazz Fest Fabricators have arranged a free sampling of CQ+1 be made available to whet all appetites. Enter brief info & you may sample it here.

Of course if for some unspeakable reason your attendance is impossible? Well. We will survive, but then there’s the matter of you. In these dire cases, the best backup comes from that other crucial machine: your computer. Once again the indefatigable Jazz team at NPR Music has arranged wall-to-wall coverage of Newport, including audio-visual-twitter coverage all throughout the field of play. Learn all about your next best alternative here.

Non-Stop John

Incorrigibly, John has somehow managed to entangle himself in yet another cool band-project-album-experience. This one is titled JASS, after its members: John, Alban (Darche), Samuel (Blaser) and Sébastien (Boisseau). Visit this page to learn more—even if you’re nonfluent in French, there’s still some outstanding samples to savor. And for the super-visually inclined, you can watch the band in action at cette YouTube clip ici.

In similar news: There is a brand new record is out by Blind Date Quartet on JH’s GPE Records label. (Yes. Man has a record label as well. Be jealous.) It features Angelika Sheridan (flutes), Ulrike Stortz (violin), Scott Roller (cello) and, just for good measure, John Hollenbeck on percussion. You can taste and indeed even purchase that record here.

Lastly, John has been commissioned by Ensemble Cairn to write new music and, naturally, perform with them in Spring 2013. Details forthcoming, excitement immediate.

The DownBeat 77th Annual Readers Poll 

And now, a message.

Every year since the dawn of Jazz press as we know it (roughly 1936, we’re told) the magistrates of DownBeat set out to take the national temperature on Who is the Best at Jazz. Now in 2012 the year’s categories simply runneth over with John Hollenbeck-related projects. Indeed John is nominated in no fewer than SIX different times, including for

Jazz Group – Claudia Quintet

Big Band -John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble

Composer- John Hollenbeck

Arranger – John Hollenbeck

Jazz Artist of the Year – John Hollenbeck

Jazz Album of the Year – What Is The Beautiful – Claudia Quintet + 1 feat. Kurt Elling & Theo Bleckmann (Cuneiform)

Fellow beloved Hollenfans, the time has come to do your part & tell the DownBeaters what is What. Say I: VOTE HOLLENBECK. Has not John Hollenbeck lead the way for all of us to demolish genre boundaries and reanimate our deepest and strangest insides? Does not John Hollenbeck bring together so many wonderfully varied flavors with each new project, album or band? Will not John Hollenbeck play transportedly, ferociously, religiously near-end vision-stricken eye-of-the-tiger drums for you every single time he sets foot to stage and hands on sticks? He has, he does, he will.

Vote Hollenbeck. Do it for the future of Jazz. Do it for the demolition of Jazz. Do it for the spiritual descendants of Kenneth Patchen and the musical descendants of Bob Brookmeyer. Do it for every child yet to write music who will someday record an album titled after plumbing or breakfast. Hollenbeck is our man; we owe it to him to show our support.

Visit this site, cough up a name & email (disposable options abound should you prefer) and then please, do vote. Tell DownBeat just What, in 2012, is What. Thank you.

Shapeshifters, Newport, and the Return of Pat

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 johnhollenwebpr@gmail.com


John is on

Fear not New Yorkers! After what feels like eons away, John returns!

On July 27th, John will reappear in (or is it from?!) the depths of Gowanus at The Shapeshifter. There he will be joined by The Claudia Quintet PLUS Mr. Matt Mitchell (Claudia’s perpetual plus one). NOT ONLY THAT, but in a special rare bonus configuration, John teams up with Gary Versace and John Hebert to form Triple Dutch Unit. Holla!

Then, on July 28th, he rises again! And with all the same players PLUS Ralph Alessi’s Modular Theatre, featuring Drew Gress, Loren Stillman, Tyshawn Sorey and Will Jennings!

And as if that completely gills-packed lineup WASN’T ENOUGH, CQ will both nights be joined by modern danseuses extraordinaires Ellen Fisher, Irene Hultman, Storme Sundberg , and Abby Levine! Mortel!

Details and ticket sales may be found at this very clickable link here.

Newport is nigh

The time has come, thou Hollenfans, to descend like English exiles onto Newport, RI. The occassion by now ought be plain: The 69th annual Newport Jazz Festival! As we’ve graciously made clear in the past John Hollenbeck stops at nothing to bring his gospel to Newport. Therefore, as humble followers, neither should we stop at anything to witness it, for this year’s word shall be triumphant indeed!

Astride yon Harbor Stage, on August 5th, at the stroke of 4:40pmClaudia Quintet + 1 will loose sweet revelation upon the assembled crowds. Joining them to set tarnation ablaze will be Kurt Elling and Theo Bleckmann, whose voices shall carry the word of the great Kenneth Patchen. Immediately following, John & al. will unmoor the harbor stage from the watery gates of Newport and sail away to redemption!

Join us! The time is now, fellow flock. Leave behind possessions of this Earth. Your job, your pets, and, if they won’t cooperate, even your children, all may be cast aside as you embark on a renewed life at Newport. Come be free and bask in the light of awakening and glittering shellfish.

Tickets, info, and the first steps to salvation may all be found here. (And for all you seeking to rid yourselves of possession before departure, we can assist in that process as well.)

Pat is back

We are pleased to report that Pat Hollenbeck, John’s brother and fellow percussionist-in-arms, has made a triumphant comeback following a debilitating stroke and resumed his place as percussionist for the Boston Pops! His first official gig since recovery was on July 4th, playing the Pops’ annual Independence Day gig on the Esplanade. To see Pat in action (and witness the unmistakable family genes embodied by another) check out this video (Pat’s segment is at 2:32)

Gress undressed 

As a treat for all our adoring music comp nerds (geeks? wizards? mages?) we leave you with link to two transcriptions of Drew Gress music and a sweet vintage Claudia Song, courtesy of The Aimless Rambler. Decoct, replay, recompose and enjoy!

Undead Rises Again!

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 johnhollenwebpr@gmail.com

Newly classic alt-alternative bonanza UNDEAD MUSIC FESTIVAL rises in New York again next week. Appearing on three outta four festival nights will be JH himself, each time in a different and rare configuration. To wit:


(Curated by Melissa Caruso Scott & John Scott)

Disbanded bands reconvene for a night to commemorate a venue still remembered fondly for its fearlessness and dedication to the freeform ethos. John will be appearing alongside his erstwhile bandmates from the golden 90’s, Ted Reichman & Reuben Radding. Together, they are: The Refuseniks!

For a list of others slated to appear and to buy your tickets, cliquez ICI


(Hosted by Search and Restore, it’s a night celebrating artist run – DIY spaces around the country)

Appearing at 11 pm: The Drum Major Instinct


John Hollenbeck – Drums / Composition

Brian Drye – Trombone

Curtis Hasselbring – Trombone

Jacob Garchik – Trombone

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — Vocals

$10 suggested donation. To read more about the evening’s festivities at IBEAM and elsewhere, click HERE



17 artists enter, arranged in a random order. Artist #1 improvises for 5 minutes solo on stage, and is then joined by #2. After 5 more minutes, #3 enters, and #1 leaves—AND SO ON!

What can happen? What will happen, that’s what.

Slated to appear:

Mark Helias (bass), Brandon Seabrook (banjo / guitar), Hilmar Jensson (guitar), Allison Miller (drums), Amir Ziv (drums), Mike Pride (drums), Bob Stewart (tuba), Cooper Moore (piano), Miles Okazaki (guitar), Marika Hughes (cello), John Hollenbeck (drums), Matthew Mottel (keys), Fabian Almazan (piano)…and more to be announced!

A festival pass gains you free entry to this event. Tickets and clues available HERE

Want to get even excited-er about UNDEAD and its musical legionnaires? Check out the premiere episode of Search & Restore’s Spontaneous Construction podcast.

In it, Search & Restore founder Adam Schatz talks with drummers John Hollenbeck (Claudia Quintet) and Greg Fox (Guardian Alien, GDFX) about improvisation, creation and world domination. They converse convivially and even play together! Not 2b missed.

The Refuseniks and me (A Hollenbeck Origin Story)


Did we just pull a fast one with this crazed torrent of dates and players? No so fast, say you, our astute reader. WHO, you no doubt would like us to stop and tell you, are the Refusenik’s?

In the words of John:

1995-1996 was an important period for me, in retrospect, I feel like I arrived at a place that felt like “home” musically-speaking. I finally found the beginnings of a personal voice on the drums and in composition. One of the main reasons I arrived at this place was my association with the Refuseniks, a collective trio with Ted Reichman and Reuben Radding. We played every Monday night at alt.coffee, a grungy internet cafe on Avenue A. Playing with those guys helped me realize who I was, who I wanted to be, as a player. Both Ted and Reuben were totally open and willing to play music that did not fit any one genre. We quickly developed a very eclectic repertoire….Charlie Haden, folk music from Norway, Turkey, Sun Ra, plus originals…. I was trying hard to compose, so it was great that these guys were open to playing my originals, including pieces with “catchy” titles like Abstinence and Diane Hull.

I also met a lot of great musicians through the gig and through Ted and Reuben, who were both more in the “Knitting Factory” scene. Important musicians such as Anthony Coleman, Greg Cohen, David Krakauer, Frank London.

When Reuben abruptly quit music in the summer of 1996 and moved to Montana, I formed The Claudia Quintet with Ted as the anchor member.

Ted by the way, is a talented  writer, you can read his version of this story here.

Doris Duke Calling

Frequent listeners of public radio and others well-versed in American higher culture will be instantly familiar with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The DDCF is the ongoing legacy of Doris Duke, relentless philanthropist and lifelong nonconformist, who was an early adopter of surfing, modern dance, and free jazz, and who started her first charitable foundation at age 21. This year DDCF has named its first class of Doris Duke Artists, 21 American performers given unrestricted cash grants so that they may continue to create art freely—and guess who made the inaugural cut?

That’s right, it’s been officially announced and now it can be told: John Hollenbeck, along with colleagues & friends Vijay Iyer & Meredith Monk, will now be among those calling DD their posthumous sugar mama.

And not a second too soon! For as it happens John & his fellow DDA recipient Bill Frisell were just in the midst of heated soul-for-cash negotiations with Guzzler Corp., a multinational powerhouse specializing in the export of crude oil effluent to low-income playgrounds around the world. Thanks to the DDCF and the late Doris Duke, John and artists like him needn’t mortgage their eternal spirit to make ends meet.

Bravo John! Bravo Bill! Bravo all!

You can read a lot more about the DDA program, including a list of its other outstanding recipients here


Starting with 2001’s No Images, John basically hasn’t stopped getting super-acclaimed graphic design dudes Karlssonwilker to make his albums look cool. Since then he’s employed mssrs Hjalti Karlsson and Jan Wilker no fewer than nine times, most recently on CQ’s unapologetically awesome cover for What is the Beautiful?, which features the art of Kenneth Patchen reconfigured in a manner you should really just go look at, trust me.

How JH & KW have not grown coldly distant over the course of what in album design years basically constitutes lifelong marriage, none of us know. Whatever the secret of their longevity as a couple, the union is strong, and now with Karlssonwilker’s brand new website, their work’s whole flow can be viewed left-to-right, now-to-then, all on one screen—including the ill Kenneth Patchen 3D painting thing, which I defy you to describe in words better than it looks, it’s so cool.

Check out all the awesome work Karlssonwilker has done for John on this page.






Tinker Tailor Soldier Hollenbeck (or: A Small Ensemble in Germany)





Provided below is a comprehensive outline of times, locations, and costs of entry for the European tour of target groups CLAUDIA QUINTET and JOHN HOLLENBECK LARGE ENSEMBLE. This highly sensitive data provides specific detail as to the planned whereabouts of target JOHN HOLLENBECK and his cohort, including THEO BLECKMANN and other suspected members of target sub-group CLAUDIA QUINTET PLUS ONE.

Following repeated near-apprehensions of JOHN HOLLENBECK throughout the coastal USA, we have finally obtained the below advance reconnaissance and expect to be achieving full apprehension by late March, if not sooner.

In order to ensure our objective is met, apprehension teams should be dispatched to each of the below time-locations maximally armed. As you already know, JOHN HOLLENBECK along with CLAUDIA QUINTET PLUS ONE are as dangerous as they are elusive, and should by no means be underestimated.

Further preparatory intel may be obtained at RIVERFRONT TIMES BLOG as well as at LAWEEKLY TIMES SOUND BLOG. From the latter, re target THEO BLECKMANN:

Bleckmann is an amazing vocalist, something like a German Bobby McFerrin minus the body drumming. He is capable of filling a hall with sounds both soothing and guttural. In the context of his set with the Claudia Quintet, he worked exclusively as a team player, working wonders to create a cohesive band sound, blending in with their unusual instrumentation perfectly

Good luck & godspeed.

Monday, March 12, 2012 Claudia Quintet with special guest Theo Bleckmann @ Stadtgarten Venloerstr. 40, Köln, (Germany) – Set: 8:30 PM All Ages Tickets: VVK: 12,00€; AK: 15,00€

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 Claudia Quintet with special guest Theo Bleckmann @ Dexter Vindegade 65, Odense, (Denmark) 4563112728 Set: 8:00 PM All Ages Tickets: Forsalg: DKK 100 Medlemspris: DKK 60 Dørsalgspris: DKK 120

Thursday, March 15, 2012 Claudia Quintet with special guest Theo Bleckmann @ DE WERF Werfstraat 108, Brugge, 8000 (Belgium) – 050 33 05 29 Set: 8:30 PM All Ages Tickets: 15 / 12 / 7

Friday, March 16, 2012 Claudia Quintet with special guest Theo Bleckmann @ Birdland Neuburg Am Karlsplatz A 52, Neuburg, 86633 (Germany) -049 (0) 84 31 4 12 33 Set: 8:30 PM All Ages

Saturday, March 17, 2012 John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble @ Jazzwoche Burghausen 2012 Am Stadtplatz, Burghausen, 84489 (Germany) – Set: 8:00 PM All Ages

Sunday, March 18, 2012 The Claudia Quintet @ Sägewerk Angerweg 32, Bad Hofgastein, 5630 (Austria) – 06432 6164 Set: 8:30 PM All Ages

Monday, March 19, 2012 The Claudia Quintet @ WIST – Kunst Uni Graz Moserhofgasse, Graz, (Austria) – 043 (316) 389-3080 Set: 8:00 PM All Ages Tickets : 15,–/7,–

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 johnhollenwebpr@gmail.com


On February 26th Berkeley’s Jazz School for Music Study & Performance will be hosting a special three hour composition workshop with none other than John Hollenbeck himself. This is a rare opportunity to peer inside the technical and creative gearbox of a man whose work routinely big bangs microgenres and improvisatorial playgrounds. To paraphrase the School’s invitation, all musicians with a rudimentary knowledge of music theory are invited to have their minds scholastically blown. Participants can bring pieces that they have started and come away with forty new beginnings. John will also discuss and his use some of his compositions as examples—truly exciting since most of his works are written in multicolored glass sand! Information of all sorts is available here.


Forget not those shows still un-attended! The hour of Claudia Quintet gig-going is already nigh, y’all!

February 27, Yoshi’s, San Francisco, CA

February 28, Blue Whale, Los Angeles, CA

February 29, Cal State Fullerton New Music Festival, CA

March 1 (with Theo Bleckmann Duo & the CSUF Jazz Ensembles), Cal State Fullerton New Music Festival, CA

March 2, 560 Music Center, St. Louis, MO

Why, what better place than these to grab your very own 100% free



If they can make it out of St. Louis alive, Claudia then continues on to Europe! Details to follow so keep eyes peeled here. For max appetite-whetting, check out this review of a recent JHLE performance at Amherst College…(scroll down to February 19th post)


Another treat: There is an extensive article on and interview with John in the latest issue of Downbeat. Check out what else is inside and learn where you might obtain your own copy here.


Right? How cool is that? What’s that? “Extremely”? Correct! Two discs. Many great reinventions. I mean DJ Spooky. Todd Reynolds. Vijay Iyer. Lee Ranaldo. Nico Mulhy. Effing Bjork! (And why not? Is not MM her spiritual mother, after all?) Double-effing Caetano Veloso! Yes, that Caetano Veloso! Quão maravilhoso. Longtime apostles John & Theo appear as well, with “Wheel”. Seals the deal, don’t it? Indulge in a sampling of songs


Alternative Music webmag El Instruso (“Dedicado a ‘la otra música'”) has released its 2011 critics poll and neither one nor two but fully three Hollenprojects graced the top rankings. Claudia Quinet was rated #2 Group of the Year, JHLE, #3 Best Live Band, and John himself, #3 Best Composer. To review the other findings, brush up on your arthouse Spanish, and initiate a letter-writing campaign to the many who weighed in, visit this page here.

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 johnhollenwebpr@gmail.com

Nightlife / Left Coast / Management

Last night at NYC’s inauspiciously-named Town Hall, John Hollenbeck was named the 2011 Nightlife Award recipient for Outstanding Group. The event was hosted by super-progeny Lucie Arnaz and presented awards to such fine standard-bearers as Jon Hendricks and Randy Weston. John, who was in the midst of leading a caravan of rescued dromedaries from Paris to Berlin, was unable to attend. He is, however, grateful for the support & recognition of the Nightlifers, although this chronicler finds himself asking—which Outstanding Group?

The mighty John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble assembles at Amherst College on February 18th. This gathering will not only feature a concert performance but also pre-performance Talk, whereupon John & al. will tell ALL. Tickets available through the link above or private collegiate channels of your own devising.

CQ+1 takes California for a spin next month, with a fine hat-tip stop in St. Louis. West Coast Hollenfans best mark calendars as such:

February 27, Yoshi’s, San Francisco, CA

February 28, Blue Whale, Los Angeles, CA

February 29, Cal State Fullerton New Music Festival, CA

March 1 (with Theo Bleckmann Duo & the CSUF Jazz Ensembles), Cal State Fullerton New Music Festival, CA

March 2, 560 Music Center, St. Louis, MO

Thereafter in March both CQ & JHLE will embark for additional gigging in Europe. Additional details and secret messages will be relayed as soon as they’re available.

Our Team is proud to announce the arrival of a brand new Manager for John: Mr. Steve Cohen. No longer must John manage his own self; now Steve, President of Music + Art Management, Inc. and likewise manager to such artists as Vijay Iyer and DJ Spooky, will be there to manage John’s self for him. Steve, a storied musician-teacher-businessmaker, is joined in managing by Lauren Snelling, who  has worked as Artistic Associate at the Park Avenue Armory and the Melbourne International Arts Festival, as well as Associate Producer at Westbeth.

The arrangement began when Steve and Lauren were rescued by John from an invisible quicksand farm in the deep South. Forever indebted to John—and to Theo, whose deep blue threnodies played a key role by distracting the renegade quicksand farmers—they made the pledge of the modern samurai: managership.

All involved are pleased and proud.

We leave you with this sweet blog post gleefully geeking out to CQ’s “This Too Shall Pass,” a “hard-grooving lament”..

Leaks, Live Scenes, and Love


John Hollenbeck was really hoping he could just record What Is The Beautiful? quietly and with a minimum of notice. In addition to diligent precautions taken to avoid being followed to and from the studio, John made all bandmates and recording personnel take a salty blood oath they’d never again speak of the album or dare let slip the finished product to anyone outside of Silver Spring, MD. Unfortunately, as we all know, the album was nefariously leaked and subsequently written about, extensively.

Among the many secret-breaking journos who weighed in were The New York Times, Los Angeles Times,Washington City Paper, New York City Jazz Record, AllAboutJazz.com, BBC.co.uk, Audiophile Audition,Rochester City NewspaperAvant Music NewsThe Gig and Jazz After Hours. Further shattering the wall of secrecy were those who audaciously named WITB? to their year-end lists, including JazzTImes, New York TImes, All About Jazz.comRock Erie.comThe Big City Blog, Step Tempest, Capital New Yorkand even more too nefarious to list. How word really got out, we’ll never know, but rest assured John will be recording What Is the Beautiful 2: What’s Really Beautiful underground, or possibly under the sea.

Today will be the last day of University of Rochester’s outstanding Kenneth Patchen exhibition, U of R’s on-the-ground analog to the Patchen-inspired album they commissioned. Upstate locals, consider gathering friends & family for a field trip. Also tonight: John joins chief vocalizer Theo Bleckmann to perform at Lincoln Center Atrium; New Yorkers ought likewise gather compats in arms and overtake the Center (it’s free!). Then on Friday at 8:15pm John joins Pete Robbins, Simon Jermyn, Oscar Noriega and Ches Smith for the Winter Jazz Festival. Visit their website for tickets and further details. Topping off the week, Claudia Quintet returns to the Cornelia Street Café in the West Village for one and one set only this Saturday at 8pm. They’ll appear in original 5-man formation to mark their 15th year together as genre-deflectors extraordinaires, and hope sincerely you’ll join them. Hit that link or telephone 212/989-9815 to make the recommended reservations.

And now, a special note to our friends who received gift cards for the holidays:
All of us know well the feeling of receiving the gift that is as flexible as it is thoughtful: the gift card. Like nothing else, the gift card says “I’ve figured out what general type of consumer good you’d enjoy, but have not burdened you unduly with the specifics. Instead of choosing a gift I can’t be totally certain you’ll love, I’ll just provide this narrowly allocated strip of electromoney and let you decide yourself.”  It is with these gift-givers in mind that we here at Team Hollenbeck have come forth to complete the thought process: If you’ve already been gifted a gift card, why not spend your plastic dollars on John & Co. this winter? Complete the gift your favorite givers were just going to give you anyways: Claudia Quintet, JHLE, ONJ—From which John’s “Falling Men” was just nominated for a Grammy—all our projects and friends can be found on iTunes and Amazon.

Lastly, we invite you to share in a Hollenbeck composition of a different kind. Last month John’s longtime mentor & friend Bob Brookmeyer passed away at the age of 81. Please read here John’s elegy for the veteran master, a loving and deeply personal portrait of a legendary man bound to be long missed.

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 johnhollenwebpr@gmail.com