Claudia Quintet | Constellation | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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Claudia Quintet

JOHN GUILLEMIN

When: Wed., Oct. 26, 8:30 p.m. 2016
Price: $20, $15 in advance
For the eighth and latest album from his long-running Claudia Quintet, percussionist and composer John Hollenbeck went with the name Super Petite (Cuneiform) as a reference to the relative brevity of its ten tracks (half of them clock in at less than five minutes). Indeed, it’s an exercise in concision compared with the typical epics of previous recordings. But shortening the pieces does nothing to lessen their intense contrapuntal rigor, as the band plays dizzying puzzle-piece arrangements constructed from terse, interlocking melodic fragments with the choreographic splendor of a scene from a Jacques Tati film. Ensemble members get ample improvisational leeway, with reedist Chris Speed in particular unleashing bob-and-weave lines on the brisk and jagged “Philly,” a track that explodes a Philly Joe Jones lick into a polyrhythmic hall of mirrors, and laying out snaking, unbroken figures on “If You See a Fox.” The other pieces are largely composed and focus more on the interplay between players (vibist Matt Moran, bassist Drew Gress, and accordionist Red Wierenga round out the ensemble). The tender “Peterborough” presents a rhythmic feel that at times evokes a society ball from the turn of the 20th century, while the rhythmically fleet “Pure Poem” serves a dizzyingly complex array of hyperprecise cycling patterns played with jaw-dropping accuracy.
— Peter Margasak
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