Over the past week, Richmond has experienced, the through composed masterpieces of The Claudia Quintet, original compositions performed by the talented front line of Rex Richardson and Steve Wilson, the unique sound of violinist Zach Brock and a whole host of local musicians killing it across town.
Over the past week, Richmond has experienced: the through composed masterpieces of The Claudia Quintet, original compositions performed by the talented front line of Rex Richardson and Steve Wilson, the unique sound of violinist Zach Brock and a whole host of local musicians killing it across town.
The Claudia Quintet
Drummer Scott Clark’s quartet opened the night at The Camel. Heavily influenced by Ornette Coleman and twelve tone serialism, the quartet is finally coming into their own. The heads were tighter, the solos went further and the group put together a stronger set than ever before. Without a record and still in their first year of performances, it will be exciting to see where this Richmond based group goes.
Next the Claudia Quintet +1 squeezed onto the stage at The Camel. With a new record due out on October 11th, the group played new tunes with a new sound and even a few world premiers.
No other group in the world sounds like the Claudia Quintet +1, or “Claudia Classic” as Hollenbeck refers to it. The instrumentation is one of a kind featuring Chris Speed (clarinet/ saxophone), Matt Moran (vibraphone), Ted Reichman (accordion), Drew Gress (bass), John Hollenbeck (drums), Theo Bleckman (voice) and Matt Mitchell (rhodes).
Unlike their previous records and performances, lush orchestration took precedence over grooves. The edgier sounds of saxophone and accordion were supported by the round glassy sounding rhodes, vibraphone and Theo Bleckmann’s voice drenched in effects.
Stuck somewhere between jazz and a classical chamber ensemble their sound defies label. Intricate through-composed charts and group improvisations only add to their uniqueness.
Despite all of the mystery, one thing is for sure, you need to check this group out as soon as possible.
Rex Richardon w/ Steve Wilson
The most anticipated event of the week, the star studded collaboration of Rex Richardson (trumpet) , Steve Wilson (alto saxophone), Trey Pollard (guitar), Randall Pharr (bass) and Brian Jones (drums) performed an impressive eight tune set. Wasting no time, the group started with Billy Strayhorn’s Lotus Blossom.
The group then proceeded to perform six original compositions with everyone contributing one tune and Richardson two.
Brian Jones’ “Big Sur” was a highlight. Effortlessly switching between a three-four shuffle and a three-four break beat, Jones commanded the ensemble as it travelled its way through unique polyrhythms over a unique form.
The following day, the quintet entered In Your Ear studio to record. There is no estimated date for release but there is already anticipation in the air.
Before the final tune, Richardson took the microphone and commented, “It has been an amazing week for music in Richmond” before encouraging everyone to go to Cafe Diem and The Camel.
Zach Brock and The Magic Number
Few instruments have as much unexplored potential as jazz violin. Zach Brock is one of the pioneers trying to change that. Performing as a trio, Zach Brock and The Magic Number sounded like nothing I have ever heard before.
Good violin starts with a good sound and Brock is not afraid to alter his sound. Whether he is using his bow, pizzicatos (plucking) or a whole host of electronic effects, his sound is never shrill or dull. In addition to sound, phrasing and vocabulary are unique on violin and Brock is a master.
Stuck somewhere in between the classic trios of Sonny Rollins and modern post bop groups, his trio killed intricate tunes without using any charts. Without stands the group had a stage presence that only added to the unique music.
In my limited experience with jazz violin, Zach Brock is by the most interesting and enjoyable violinist I have ever heard perform.
It seems as if any time a big name jazz musician comes to town, Richmond welcomes them into the community. Maybe it’s geography, maybe it’s population or maybe it’s culture, but few jazz musicians from New York make it south of Washington D.C. When they do, it’s well worth their time. Whether it is the total immersion and adoption of Steven Bernstein or something as simple as masterclasses at VCU by John Hollenbeck, Steve Wilson and Zach Brock, these musician’s engagement goes way beyond the stage.
It isn’t every week that this much amazing music happens in RVA, but keep your eyes peeled and yours ears open because groups are always in town and