CD RELEASE Celebration of Songs We Like A Lot
on Sunnyside Records
Wednesday, June 10, 2015 @ 8:00 pm
509 Atlantic Avenue (Entrance at the corner of 3rd Avenue)
Brooklyn, NY 11217
General Admission: $20
Series Members — $10 // FREE for All-Access Members // Doors at 7pm
LIVE with the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble
featuring Theo Bleckmann, Kate McGarry
and Special Guest, Ben Monder
Ben Kono – sop/alto sax, flute
Jeremy Viner – clarinet/tenor sax
Tony Malaby – ten/sop sax
Dan Willis – ten/sop sax, english horn, flute
Bohdan Hilash – contra-alto clar, bass sax, clar
Mark Patterson – trombone
Mike Christianson – trombone
Jacob Garchik – trombone
Alan Ferber – trombone
Tony Kadleck – trumpet, flugelhorn
Jon Owens – trumpet, flugelhorn
Dave Ballou – trumpet, flugelhorn
Matt Holman – trumpet, flugelhorn
Chris Tordini – acoustic/electric bass
Matt Mitchell – piano, organ, keyboard
Patricia Franceschy – mallet percussion
John Hollenbeck – drums, composition
Theo Bleckmann – voice
Kate McGarry – voice
JC Sanford – conductor
Special Guest: Ben Monder – guitar
The New York Times recommends us!
“★ John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble (Wednesday) The drummer and composer John Hollenbeck uses an orchestra as a panoramic canvas, blending color and texture with an eye toward the sweeping view. His new album, “Songs We Like a Lot,” features an imaginative reframing of nominally unlikely fare — the Carpenters’ smash “(They Long to Be) Close to You,” the Fifth Dimension hit “Up, Up and Away” — performed by the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, with Theo Bleckmann and Kate McGarry on vocals. The singers reprise their roles at this concert, with Mr. Hollenbeck’s namesake band. At 8 p.m., Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, near Third Avenue, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, 917-267-0363, roulette.org. (Chinen)”
As does The New Yorker!
“The percussionist, composer, and arranger Hollenbeck may admire the work of Pete Seeger, Burt Bacharach, Cyndi Lauper, and others, but that doesn’t mean he treats it as if it were scripture. On his new album, “Songs We Like a Lot,” a collaboration with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band and the vocalists Theo Bleckmann and Kate McGarry, Hollenbeck radically reshapes tunes like “Close to You” and “True Colors” with impunity. Bleckmann, McGarry, and a sizable New York-based contingent join the leader at Roulette. (509 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn. 917-267-0363. June 10.) Night Life“
You can pre-order SWLAL!
You can LISTEN to & pre-order the CD (which will be officially released on June 23rd) at
Sunnyside Records. Otherwise, if you ask nice, you can buy a fresh copy at the release show!
The Official Press Release for Songs We Like a Lot, courtesy of Fully Altered Media:
How to follow-up a Grammy-nominated album disarmingly called Songs I Like a Lot? By broadening the canvas and releasing Songs We Like a Lot, of course. John Hollenbeck returns after the triumph of Songs I Like a Lot, accompanied again by vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckmann and pianist Uri Caine, with an expanded palette and even more robust sonic transformations, encompassing everything from Burt Bacharach to the poetry of Kenneth Patchen, from Cyndi Lauper to a deconstructed “Get Lucky.”
A combination of indelible pop tunes and his own compositions, Songs We Like a Lot is propelled throughout by Hollenbeck’s creative arrangements for the Frankfurt Radio Bigband. These arrangements are heard to spellbinding effect in the album’s opener, a moving reimagining of “How Can I Keep From Singing.” The song is most strongly associated with Pete Seeger, and co-written by him; this rendition is intended as a tribute to the recently departed folksinger, who passed away only last year. A slowly swelling opening fanfare gives way to a steady pulse, which in turn builds, via a lovely tenor solo by Steffen Weber, to a rich crescendo, the horns framing delicious harmonies from McGarry and Bleckmann.
Like Miles Davis before him, Hollenbeck plucks a Cyndi Lauper hit — in this case, “True Colors,” penned by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg — from the pop pantheon, chopping and screwing it into a reconstituted suite that retains the lilting flow of the original while using new harmonies and repetitive motifs to recontextualize the beauty inherent in the song. (And not least rescuing it from Kodak-ad purgatory.)
Among the Hollenbeck originals is “The Snow Is Deep on the Ground,” a delicate composition that originally appeared on the Claudia Quintet’s What is the Beautiful? Bleckmann sings words by poet Kenneth Patchen in both versions; here, rather than the skeletal framework of the quintet, his voice is embraced by a full brass and woodwind blanket of sound. Pianist Uri Caine and vocalist Kate McGarry are two new additions to this lovely, enlarged version.
Another poet’s words figure in the Hollenbeck original “Constant Conversation” — those of 13th-century poet and mystic Rūmī. “Constant Conversation” uses Middle Eastern musical motifs to undergird McGarry’s spoken-word vocal. A riff and a drone and an unerring sense of melody allows Hollenbeck to create an atmosphere that feels at once deeply personal and innately global. This is sole tune on which keyboardist Gary Versace appears on this record, though his piano was heard throughout Songs I Like a Lot.
What John Kelman in his AllAboutJazz.com review of Songs I Like a Lot called “Hollenbeck’s skill at taking small but defining motifs from an original song and use them as starting points for broader orchestrations” is on full display in his reworkings of the pop chestnuts “Close to You” and “Up, Up and Away.” The latter reaches heights never dreamed of by original performers The Fifth Dimension and composer Jimmy Webb. A pulsating fever-dream of horns in flight, “Up, Up and Away” provides the album’s closing burst of color and beauty.
Meanwhile, the Bacharach and David tune “Close to You,” popularized by The Carpenters, maintains the lovely falling harmonies of the original, while Hollenbeck and McGarry extend the refrain repeatedly in a stirring, not-entirely-unsettling bit of musical mesmerism. Other highlights include a brief “de-rangement” of the Daft Punk smash hit “Get Lucky,” based, according to Hollenbeck, “on what I think the Russian Police Choir should have sounded like when they sang it at the Sochi Olympic Games opening ceremony.”
In reviewing Songs I Like a Lot, David Hadju wrote in The New Republic that “you can hear, in [Hollenbeck’s] work, the collapse of cultural borders, the shuffling of traditions and influences, the old and the new and the earthy and the urban and the proper and the wiseass, swirling in unstable but unstoppable motion. Hollenbeck is a musician for our time.” This is only more true now.
Looking ahead, the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble with Bleckmann and McGarry will be appearing at the next Newport Jazz Festival on July 31, 2015 , playing selections from this latest recording. Those who lament the turning away from the popular song canon for lyrical inspiration should find much reassurance — not to mention a lot to like — in this latest outing from Hollenbeck & Co. (Grammarians who lament the steady appearance of “alot” in our written correspondence also have reason to cheer.)
I hope to see you on hump day so we can celebrate together!