The relationship between silence and music is like that between a virgin coastline and the threat of residential development. Just as some buildings blend and others obliterate, some music embraces the silence on which it is painted, and some seeks to expunge all traces.
Silence is a relative term: it can mean a sense of air around the notes rather than gaping wounds of nothingness, and in this regard certain instruments are more telling than others. Vibraphone is king, its every note seeming to have air swishing around it. Accordion and clarinet are others, and these three colours are central to the aerated sound of the Claudia Quintet, the New York band that realises the unique sonic dreams of drummer John Hollenbeck.
All these Hollenbeck compositions were penned in the month of September – our March – when the warmth of summer lingers during the days, while the evenings already hint at the cold to come. Hollenbeck writes cosmopolitan melodies that are by turns charming and wistful, sometimes underpinning them with surprisingly knotty rhythms, given that the end music is seldom dense.
Clarinettist Chris Speed can play storming tenor saxophone when required, and the bass of either Drew Gress or Chris Tordini completes the line-up with accordionist Red Wierenga and vibraphonist Matt Moran. Have a listen. It’s like a breath of fresh air.