A Blessing

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Dave Lynch
Drummer, composer, and bandleader John Hollenbeck reveals the wide and deep range of his talents on the first album by his Large Ensemble, an 18-piece aggregation of some of the most skilled musicians on the New York City creative music scene, including Hollenbeck's frequent partner in musical exploration, vocalist Theo Bleckmann, and two members of the Claudia Quintet. Hollenbeck succeeds brilliantly in keeping the listener off balance, revealing new facets of his artistic vision and the capabilities of his players as the album progresses, yet never losing sight of A Blessing's overarching conceptual form. The CD begins with a blessing and ends with a prayer, deeply ...
See more details below
CD
$13.98
BN.com price
(Save 17%)$16.99 List Price

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Dave Lynch
Drummer, composer, and bandleader John Hollenbeck reveals the wide and deep range of his talents on the first album by his Large Ensemble, an 18-piece aggregation of some of the most skilled musicians on the New York City creative music scene, including Hollenbeck's frequent partner in musical exploration, vocalist Theo Bleckmann, and two members of the Claudia Quintet. Hollenbeck succeeds brilliantly in keeping the listener off balance, revealing new facets of his artistic vision and the capabilities of his players as the album progresses, yet never losing sight of A Blessing's overarching conceptual form. 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. That trip starts at the title track, as the moody, subtle atmospherics of piano, bowed vibes, and bass beneath Bleckmann's vocal build through an expressive soprano saxophone interlude into thoroughly scored full-ensemble territory that fully reflects Hollenbeck's compositional acumen. Front-line instruments including woodwinds, mallets, and voice unwind chant-like melodic lines over a harmonic backdrop that shifts as the rhythm tightens and the melodies knot up in counterpoint, finally ascending to a plateau of shimmering, Steve Reich-ian minimalism beneath Bleckmann's final heartfelt wish -- a traditional Irish blessing that everyone has heard but has never been offered more poignantly -- that life offer up its best for its travelers. Later, a jazz sensibility takes over in "RAM," with its brassy punctuations and swing, while masses of caterwauling horns let loose over a mechanistically pounding, skewed rhythm in "Weiji" and the thus-far definitive version of Hollenbeck's opus "a-b-s-t-i-n-e-n-c-e" builds to climax suggesting quite the opposite of the title itself. The catharsis is invigorating and fully realized as the album winds its way through myriad episodes of contrasting moods, even as solo instrumental spotlights for trombone, piano, and saxophone battle with complex underlying arrangements for the listeners' attention. There's so much to hear that multiple spins are absolutely mandatory. In the liners, Hollenbeck is quoted describing Bleckmann as the band's "secret weapon," and that pretty much nails it. Bleckmann is a beautifully evocative singer in a "conventional" song, but his wordless voice is also a stunning instrument, somehow both warm and otherworldly. He's in the mix here and there throughout, taking on the role that, for example, a theremin, shakuhachi, or didgeridoo might fulfill in your not-so-typical big-band arrangement. Ultimately, A Blessing is like any of John Hollenbeck's other, smaller-group releases to date -- stylistically unclassifiable while fully engaged in expanding the diverse genres and styles it draws upon. To use a term that has probably gone out of fashion during times of fragmentation and discord, Hollenbeck's music is "holistic," and summed up best in "The Music of Life"'s selfless prayer for healing at this album's conclusion. The world and all its inhabitants could benefit greatly by taking this type of blessing to heart.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/14/2005
  • Label: Omnitone Records
  • UPC: 686281520927
  • Catalog Number: 15209

Album Credits

Performance Credits
John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble Primary Artist
John Hollenbeck Indexed Contributor, Percussion, Drums
Kermit Driscoll Bass
Laurie Frink Trumpet
Robert Hudson Trombone
Tony Kadleck Trumpet
Chris Speed Clarinet
Allen Won Bass Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone
Dave Ballou Trumpet
Theo Bleckmann Vocals, Voices
Jon Owens Trumpet
Tom Christensen Soprano, English Horn, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
Dan Willis English Horn, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
Gary Versace Piano
Jacob Garchik Trombone
Matt Moran Mallets, Vibes
Ben Kono Alto, Flute, Soprano, Saxophone
Alan Ferber Trombone
Kurtis Pivert Trombone
Alan Won Bass Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone
Rob Hudson Trombone
Technical Credits
John Hollenbeck Composer, Producer, Audio Production
Gene Paul Mastering
Frank Tafuri Liner Notes, Executive Producer
Aya Takemura Engineer
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously