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The Claudia Quintet biography
Formed in 1997 by John Hollenbeck, the Claudia Quintet is made up of some very talented, prestigious players: twice Grammy-nominated John Hollenbeck on drums, Matt Moran on vibraphone and percussion (Slavic Soul Party, Mat Maneri, Theo Bleckmann), Chris Speed on clarinet/saxophone (Human Feel, Bloodcount, Alas No Axis), Drew Gress on acoustic bass (Tim Berne, Uri Caine, Ravi Coltrane), and Ted Reichman on accordion (Anthony Braxton, Marc Ribot, Paul Simon). Each member brings something unique and wonderful to the group, including their individual senses of humor. The Quintet takes its name from a woman named Claudia, who was in the New York area in the late 90s.

Mixing elements from jazz, chamber music, rock, and other genres, the group has formed a sound of their own over the years. Hollenbeck is an exceptionally talented, creative composer, whose compositions for the Quintet display an excellent use of complex rhythms, along with a very full, very warm sound and a witty, playful quality, which often masks the underlying complexity of the compositions.

The Quintet recorded with a sixth member for their most recent album: Gary Versace on piano. The album, Royal Toast, was released in May 2010 by Cuneiform Records. According to Hollenbeck, Many people don't appreciate toast for all that it can be, and the album was named as such because he likes toast, and because putting Royal in front of it makes the album seem more elevated. The album contains short tracks in which one member played an improvised duo with himself, acting as short bridges between the longer tracks. Royal Toast was the fifth album by the ensemble, and displayed the group's continuing ability to push barriers and create music which is simultaneously complex, intelligent, and highly catchy.

The Claudia Quintet is highly recommended if you like your jazz with a taste of experimentation and rock, and the new album in particular is recommended if you enjoy your toast with a flavor of royalty.

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THE CLAUDIA QUINTET top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
The Claudia Quintet
4.00 | 2 ratings
I, Claudia
4.05 | 2 ratings
3.00 | 1 ratings
4.09 | 10 ratings
Royal Toast
3.00 | 1 ratings
4.00 | 1 ratings
Super Petite

THE CLAUDIA QUINTET Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Royal Toast by CLAUDIA QUINTET, THE album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.09 | 10 ratings

Royal Toast
The Claudia Quintet RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by idlero

3 stars Actually "Claudia Quintet & Gary Versace", one of the contenders to "the most overrated albums of 2010" IMHO. I picked this album coming from the jazz side and was rather surprised to find it in PA, nothing proggish about it. I think that 2010 was a good year for jazz(even more than for prog) and in these conditions "Claudia Quintet" will have a difficult time in reaching it's public, there are a lot of better releases out there. A good album for people looking for chamber music/jazz which is more atmospheric than jazzy and probably for fans of "Claudia Quintet". I think it is a mistake to add to PA music that has almost no relation to prog(you can see from the number of ratings this band got in PA that it doesn't appeal to too many listeners here) because it tends to get lost here.
 Royal Toast by CLAUDIA QUINTET, THE album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.09 | 10 ratings

Royal Toast
The Claudia Quintet RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by SaltyJon
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Royal Toast has been one of my favorite discoveries this year. Upon reading about the Claudia Quintet on Wayside Music, I was intrigued by their descriptions, so I ordered the band's latest album. What I got was a thoroughly pleasing mix of modern jazz and bits of chamber music sound. The group's core lineup has remained the same throughout the many years they've been recording, but on this album they were joined by pianist Gary Versace. He's been collaborating with Hollenbeck for quite a while now, playing with him in his Large Ensemble and other groups, and Hollenbeck has said that "what he plays is exactly what I would I be doing if I could play piano really well." This really plays to the advantage of the group, and he fits in so naturally that if I didn't know better I'd say he's been with the group for years.

The music on the album was mostly composed by Hollenbeck, and so it's all very rhythmically complex. The group manages to maintain this complexity without detracting from the listenability. I really like the style of music on display here. It's both melodic and based on the various rhythmic ideas present in the different pieces. One of the most unique things about this album is the short interlude pieces "Ted vs. Ted", "Drew with Drew", "Matt On Matt", and "Chris and Chris". On these pieces, the musician in the title was asked to improvise a duet with himself, an experiment which worked out very well in my opinion. The musicians didn't even know that the pieces would be played together, and each line was recorded separately. Along with these experimental duets, the rest of the tracks are some incredible avant-jazzy compositions sure to please fans of the jazzy side of things, and quite possibly beyond. It always manages to get my toes tapping along to the beat (though my feet sometimes get lost in the shuffle).

This album does seem to be more jazzy than it is prog, but it's a very great recording, and I think it's worth checking out for just about anyone. This is easily one of my favorite albums from 2010, and I have no hesitation in giving it the full five stars.

 Royal Toast by CLAUDIA QUINTET, THE album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.09 | 10 ratings

Royal Toast
The Claudia Quintet RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Three years after their last album, The Claudia Quintet returned with this new album. This band's music has the style of its own - deeply rooted in modern jazz, it accumulates chamber music, minimalism and some downtown scent (kletzmer tunes and accordion sound,etc).

Interesting, that being really complex and very multi-layered, this music is quite accessible listening from very first spin. Another thing , that to get in it in whole you will need to spend hours and hours, after every listening you will discover new episodes and sounds.

Bands founder drummer and composer John Hollenbeck is a great figure of modern American avant-jazz scene, and his compositions and musicianship are really of the highest standard there on this album.

Still an album for avant-jazz lovers, it could be really attractive for some chamber rock/RIO fans as well. One of most unique, complex and interesting release from 2010.

 Semi-Formal by CLAUDIA QUINTET, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.05 | 2 ratings

The Claudia Quintet RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by fuxi
Prog Reviewer

4 stars What a splendid album. If the line-up appeals to you, trust me: the musique is as bubbly and inventive as you'd hope for. The main instruments used are: drums and percussion, vibraphone, keyboards (mainly organ and pianos, both acoustic and electric), clarinet, accordion and double bass. (You will also get to hear some tenor sax, various guitars and even an electric fan.)

How to describe the contents? For those approaching this from a rock angle, perhaps the easiest comparison will be Gong at the time of SHAMAHL (without those awful vocals, of course) or with Hatfield and the North at their mellowest: chamber jazz, Canterbury style. For listeners who are deeply into actual jazz: this music often reminded me of the collaborations between Don Byron (clarinet), Bryan Carrott (vibes) and Ralph Peterson, although it's more "classical" in mood, and less frantic. There are also some distinct echos of Weather Report at their most infectious. Finally, I also recognised the influence of European salon music (mainly due to the presence of an old-fashioned accordion) and (occasionally) of Steve Reich style minimalism.

Of course a mere list of influences won't capture the spirit of an album, so let me add that The Claudia Quintet seem to have absorbed many different styles effortlessly, turning them into a joyous 65-minute whole which is always highly inventive and sometimes delightfully surprising. I can't wait to find out more about these guys!

 Royal Toast by CLAUDIA QUINTET, THE album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.09 | 10 ratings

Royal Toast
The Claudia Quintet RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by progpositivity
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Quick overview: Nice and warm throughout yet also contrapuntal and dissonant at times. If you like Zappa's instrumental jazzy side (ex: Eric Dolphy's Memorial BBQ), this may be of interest. More jazz than prog but inventive and excellently performed. All instrumental (no vocals) featuring drums, bass, vibes, accordian, sax, clarinet, and piano.

More detailed review: Although "Royal Toast" features the kind of complex inter-locking multi- instrumental passages one might expect to come from a post-progressive rock band, its presentation is much more firmly planted within the realm of jazz than that of rock. I don't mean to imply that there is no energy or excitement to be found on this CD. On the contrary, there is certainly more than enough of both to go around - just not particularly of the rock variety. Unlike many jazz ensembles, drummer John Hollenbeck has kept this core lineup intact for quite a few years now, resulting in a group of instrumentalists who are very comfortable performing extended musical passages in which not only does no single member occupy the lead chair, but in which players neither compete with nor usurp one another. In this respect, some of the band's most inventive and exciting pieces can be likened to very polite and proper extensions of math rock.

Gary Versace fits in nicely as he sits in on piano. (Yes, our "quintet" has 6 members this time around!) Versace does a good job of finding his place in the groove, cutting loose only when the songs demand it. Ted Reichman's accordion continues to redefine the limited way in which many people think about the instrument.

If, during your progrock explorations, you have developed an taste for intelligent and inventive progressive jazz, this is a winner.

If for no other reason than the fact that it manages to present us with a collection of warm, rich and oddly understated instrumental pieces while also intelligently reaching into contrapuntal, dissonant and even freeform musical realms, this album deserves a listen.

Thanks to saltyjon for the artist addition.

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