Claudia Quintet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Claudia Quintet

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This New York band led by drummer-composer John Hollenbeck creates gorgeous blends of melody and texture that blur the lines between jazz and contemporary classical. The back cover of its third album, the superb new Semi-Formal (Cuneiform), features a gridlike illustration that maps out the music's shifting instrumentation and brief windows of improvisation, but the songs never sound coldly schematic. The band--reedist Chris Speed, vibist Matt Moran, bassist Drew Gress, and accordionist-guitarist Ted Reichman--sketches out Hollenbeck's tunes with a light touch, embroidering the rich harmonies and lovely melodies in empathic, imaginative ways. The music sometimes harks back to 70s-style minimalism a la Steve Reich, where discrete melodic patterns are run through countless permutations, but the group also has an earthy sense of groove that recalls Tortoise's best work. This show is part of the Umbrella Music Festival; see page TK for a complete schedule. a 7 PM, Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. F A

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