I, Claudia

The Claudia Quintet

2004, Cuneiform Records
2020, Flexatonic records (re-issue)

I, Claudia

Chris Speed  clarinet, tenor saxophone
Matt Moran  vibraphone, percussion
Ted Reichman  accordion
Drew Gress  acoustic bass
John Hollenbeck  drums, composition

The Claudia Quintet’s music, while clearly influenced by the jazz idiom, goes far beyond jazz, and many parts of this record have more in common with musicians such as L’Ensemble Raye, Hamster Theatre, Nimal, Von Zamla and others. This album demonstrates that “Innovative jazz does not have to be harsh, angry, loud, shrill or grating; it can be delicate, witty, ethereal and radiantly lyric, as the Claudia Quintet pointed out…” [Chicago Tribune]. Formed by composer/drummer John Hollenbeck in 1997, this NY ensemble creates music that explores the edge in a manner that captivates and enthralls novice listeners, and keeps experienced fans returning for more. I, Claudia is a highly seductive work, ripe with compelling, propulsive grooves, dynamic sensitivity, catchy melodies and telepathic improvisation. Remarkably accessible, its music can perhaps be called postjazz. As the NY Times stated recently: “…if the music were a little bit dumber, it would resemble the music of the rock band Tortoise. No disrespect to Tortoise.”

I, Claudia

“As for the Claudia Quintet specifically, a great deal of time has been spent by listeners, writers, etc., trying to accurately define The Claudia Quintet. The task is, however, for the most part, futile. Sure, the group sound and compositions are a unique combination—a dash of jazz, a smidgen of rock, some improv, a touch of non-western sources, or a little chamber. Ultimately, though, all that matters in the end is that this combination simply works.”
– Jay Collins, One Final Sheet


“From African-inspired polyrhythms and sheets of sound to funk grooves, modern classical nods, and free improvisation, Hollenbeck expresses his diverse influences and keeps the changes constant, switching between tight ensemble lines, flowing passages and improvisation.” – Sean Patrick Fitzell, All About Jazz