What reviewers and others have to say about John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble: A Blessing (OmniTone 15209)

John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble: A BLESSING
  • 4 1/2 of 5 stars"...this gorgeous collection...should put Hollenbeck on the map, beside Maria Schneider, as a major protégé of Bob Brookmeyer and Gil Evans. . . .  this is meaty, smart, thoroughly baked bread for the soul."  —Paul de Barros, Down Beat
  • 4 1/2 of 5 stars"The CD begins with a blessing and ends with a prayer, deeply humanistic and touchingly hopeful messages bracketing the far-reaching journey at the album's heart. . . .  There's so much to hear that multiple spins are absolutely mandatory. . . .  Bleckmann is a beautifully evocative singer in a 'conventional' song, but his wordless voice is also a stunning instrument, somehow both warm and otherworldly....  The world and all its inhabitants could benefit greatly by taking this type of blessing to heart."  —Dave Lynch, AllMusic.com
  • 5 of 5 stars - CHOC! Album of the year CHOC! Album of the Year — JazzMan (France)
  • "Mr. Hollenbeck is clearly interested in a huge area of contemporary music, from minimalism to African music to art song to funk to free and straight-ahead jazz.  (He never sounds like he's mocking any one style, or overreaching: he figures out a way to make everything his own.)  It's a real ensemble record, without many solos in the traditional jazz sense; the musicians play in tight, arranged sections, but also go to the other extreme, teasing out weird timbres and textures."  —Ben Ratliff, The New York Times
  • Best of 2005 —John Kelman, AllAboutJazz.com
  • Favorite albums of 2005: #1.  "Steve Reich and the Art Ensemble of Chicago have a heart-to-heart with Gil Evans in this bold reimagining of the big-band format."  —Matthew Lurie, Time Out Chicago
  • 4 of 5 stars". . . decidedly unconventional . . . a rigorously controlled combination of the free and the formal. . . .  all done with striking clarity, authority and originality." —Ray Comiskey, Irish Times
  • ". . . miles away from the shouting, accented brass blasts and dense writing of conventional big band scores. . . .  Hollenbeck is an ambitious and thoughtful composer worth checking out." —John L Walters, The Guardian (UK)
  • "John Hollenbeck's ensemble has the precision of the Basie school, the tight discipline of the Kentonites, the color palette of [Gil] Evans and the experimentalism of the Arkestra.  But the pulsing orchestral figures, looping, triple-meter rhythms and rocking major to minor harmonic movement owe as much to the Minimalists as to any jazz figure. . . .  If a Cecil Taylor band played Bill Holman charts, it might sound something like this.  Or maybe not.   It's a very unusual sound, and an arresting, multi-layered CD."  —John Chacona, Signal to Noise
  • ". . . inspired large-group work . . . Even when interpreting canonical jazz, Hollenbeck goes about his art with startling originality and vision."  —David Adler, All About Jazz–New York  [Read review]
  • "This is ambitious, modern big band music, brilliantly arranged and deftly performed and recorded. . . .  Hollenbeck has created a sonic universe where a sort of focused spirituality and a deep sense of play are interwoven. . . .  Hollenbeck's music is his own.  His composing and arranging skills naturally lend themselves to writing for a large ensemble, and the results are an unqualified success."  —Paul Olson, AllAboutJazz.com    [Read review]
  • "When a musician's conception covers lots of stylistic ground, they say she or he has 'big ears.'  If that's so, John Hollenbeck's ears must be the size of an African elephant's. . . .  rest assured that this bracing music never fails to swing. . . . big, and thoughtful, fun."  —David Prince, Santa Fe New Mexican
  • "The word that comes to mind . . . is 'EPIC'. . . .  This is an album to GET & to TREASURE. . . .  I give it my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, to be sure!" —Rotcod Zzaj, ImprovijazzationNation.com
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