Performances Reviews

John Hollenbeck – At Le Poisson Rouge, a Big Band Reaches for Bold Sounds


People forget that big bands have been places of real aesthetic boldness. Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Bill Finegan, Bill Russo, Gil Evans, Bob Brookmeyer, Gerald Wilson, Muhal Richard Abrams, Maria Schneider: these were and are no slouches, and there are clear signs that a few younger composer-arrangers will join that list. Let’s start with John Hollenbeck, whose 20-piece Large Ensemble played a superior show at Le Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village Monday night. His music was playful, profound, attentive to the soloists’ strengths and pretty much continuously imaginative — even though the band hadn’t had a gig since March.

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