Songs You Like A Lot
(Flexatonic Records Flex 001)Back at the tail end of 2019, I caught drummer John Hollenbeck weaving his magic in the Strenge Krammer intimate performance space at the famed Porgy & Bess jazz club in Vienna. It was one of those gigs when you come away with a warm tingling feeling, that you’ve just witnessed something special.That night, Hollenbeck was a powerhouse of creativity, at once dynamic, lyrical and inventive behind his drum set, powering and seducing the other four like-minded members of the Claudia Quintet onto ever higher plains of improvisational chemistry.So, when a new Hollenbeck record comes out, one may be forgiven for expecting more of the adventurous jazzy same. Then again, Songs You Like A Lot is the final chapter of a trilogy with a very different mindset. And, while the drummer has his firm seasoned hands on the sonic tiller, he is the artistic directorial guiding light behind the three-parter rather than anchoring the instrumental end result.In addition to his silky percussive skills, Hollenbeck proves to be a dab hand as an arranger too. That is demonstrated amply across all eight tracks on Songs You Like A Lot which features Theo Bleckmann and Kate McGarry on vocals and Gary Versace on various keyboards, with contributions by a motley crew of other instrumentalists, and heftily underpinned by the Frankfurt Radio Big Band.As the titles of all 3 discs infer – parts one and two of the trilogy are called Songs I