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Royal Toast

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Audio CD, May 18, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"Royal Toast" is the fifth release by this sensational 'jazz and beyond' ensemble, led by twice Grammy-nominated drummer/composer John Hollenbeck and featuring Drew Gress (bass), Matt Moran (vibes), Ted Reichman (accordion), Gary Versace (keyboards) and Chris Speed (tenor sax, clarinet). The Claudia Quintet's visibility could not be greater: The band perform at high profile venues, place very high on CMJ's listings of most played jazz albums with each release and gather huge press interest. This is the band's first album in four years and will be eagerly received by their many fans.

Review

This is a true ensemble from top to bottom, a sonic equivalent to a handwoven tapestry. Impressive. --DownBeat

Throughout the decade of the 2000s, the Claudia Quintet recorded, toured, and became one of the top five progressive jazz units in the U.S. and the world. For 2010 they continue with Royal Toast, implying elegance and a golden brown, perfectly prepared, even buttery music. Percussionist/composer/bandleader John Hollenbeck has retained saxophonist and clarinetist Chris Speed, the piquant subtle vibraphonist Matt Moran, accordion specialist Ted Reichman, and the great bassist Drew Gress, adding special guest Gary Versace, not on organ but acoustic piano. The resulting music is surprising low-key, less complex and intricate, but still bold, groundbreaking, and spread across numerous colorful sonic palettes. Many of these performances have solo preludes from individual bandmembers, with Hollenbeck's drums preceding the more involved funk of "Keramag," the pithy bass of Gress leading into the driven and heavy fast march "Sphinx," and Speed's counterpoint overdubbed saxes as an intro for the sideways title track, recalling recent efforts of David Binney. The stand-alone "Crane Merit" lives up to its title in the lugubrious but dignified persona of the near extinct bird, while "Paterna Terra" is free to soulful and the tandem "Ideal/American Standard" is mysterious to insistent. Versace's role is that of shading or propping up these melodies, and one should listen closely to his contributions here. It's another extraordinary musical experience from the Claudia Quintet, who deserve all the high marks they receive as an innovative, thought-provoking, singularly unique contemporary ensemble. --Michael G. Nastos - The All Music Guide


Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
  1. Crane Merit 6:46$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Keramag Prelude 1:01$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Keramag 8:10$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Paterna Terra 5:31$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Ted Versus Ted0:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Armitage Shanks 5:03$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Drew with Drew0:48$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Sphinx 3:59$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Matt On Matt0:53$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Zurn 6:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Chris and Chris0:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. Royal Toast 5:31$0.99  Buy MP3 
13. "Ideal" Intro 1:15$0.99  Buy MP3 
14. Ideal Standard 8:07$0.99  Buy MP3 
15. American Standard 6:04$0.99  Buy MP3 
16. For Frederick Franck 7:49$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 18, 2010)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2010
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: CUNEIFORM
  • ASIN: B003E1QC4U
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,731 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Scott Williams on June 13, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Overview:

For the Claudia Quintet's fifth release, leader and composer John Hollenbeck adds Gary Versace on piano. This was an interesting pick of a pianist as you typically think of Gary playing the accordion, but the Claudia Quintet already has an accordionist, Ted Reichman. Gary does play accordion on one track "For Frederick Franck". The addition of Versace on piano leads to more complex, deeply layered compositions. There is less space on the tunes than past Claudia CDs, and at any point in time there is a lot going on with many layered textures. In a way, this is almost half way between the typical Claudia Quintet CD and one of Hollenbeck's big band ensembles. As with all Hollenbeck projects the sound is post modern and out there. Also, as with other Claudia CDs, Hollenbeck has created a very dreamy and surreal soundscape on Royal Toast. Hollenbeck, Versace, and Reichman are joined by the rest of the Claudia crew: Chris Speed on clarinet and tenor sax, Matt Moran on vibraphones, and Drew Gress on bass.

Song Highlights:

Zurn: Tune opens with a real spacey happy melody and at about the 1:20 minute mark, this fantastic heavy handed dark bass line comes pounding in and take over the mood. It's pretty much just the bass with and drums in a odd punk rock like groove with some light dreamy vibes over the top and hints of accordion.

Sphinx: This tune opens with a repetitive 3 note octave pattern on the bass and some frantic lines doubled by the piano, clarinet, and perhaps vibes, this stops abruptly and segues in the a section where the bass and drums are in some whacked out time signature, with the clarinet soloing over the top.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jan P. Dennis on March 3, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Perhaps if they'd called it Royal Flush instead of Royal Toast, more people might've caught on. Ya see, this remarkable disc is a tribute to--of all things--plumbing. It's amazing to me that of the dozen or so reviews of this disc that I've perused, only two, both of them by Brits, picked up on the bathroom angle. Leader Hollenbeck, in his droll way, even deadpanned a direct inquiry from one American reviewer regarding the title tune by saying, "I like toast, and I noticed that if you put 'royal' in front of something, it seems elevated."

Yet the song titles "Crane Merit," "Kermag", "Armitage Shanks," "Sphinx," "Zurn," "Royal Toast," "Ideal Standard," and "American Standard" all reference plumbing manufacturers. Indeed, the only two titles (not counting brief interludes) that don't, "Paterna Terra" and "For Frederick Franck," have very personal meanings for composer Hollenbeck thereby earning a pass, one supposes, from the wry bathroom humor characterizing the rest of the song titles.

What's the point, you say? Got me. Is it some kind of Warholian move of elevating common objects to art? Industrial jazz? A tongue-in-cheek nod to American sanitary engineering? Who knows. What I do know is that it's among the finest music Hollenbeck's ever composed and performed. From the somber opening bars of the faux-elegiac chamber-jazzish first tune, "Crane Merit," to the shimmering mysterioso vibe of the closer, "For Frederick Franck," this is a special disc. The addition of Gary Versace to the Quintet was a master stroke. His spare pianisms add subtle depth and complexity to an already thick sound signature. By "thick" I mean not only dense, weighty, but thick in a musically analogous way to the thickness a Bernard Lonergan or an Alasdair McIntyre bring to philosophical theology.
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3 of 14 people found the following review helpful By IRate on June 24, 2010
Format: Audio CD
3 1/2

When firing on all cylinders the exploratory jazz ensemble offers a distinct blend of experimental progression and playful interaction, falling prey though to excessive interludes and killing off potentially commendable momentum.
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1 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Azoic on May 23, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Is you're appreciative of Miriodor,L'Ensemble Raye,Univers Zero,Nimal,Lars Hollmer,Magma then you'll probably dig this band.Highly creative,smart,and alot of fun.Best of all -no singing.
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