Briefly, John Hollenbeck kicks a*@! I saw the sold-out hit in Cambridge tonight, a split between the Reufge Trio with Gary Versace and Theo Bleckman, and the Claudia Quintet (Chris Speed, Ted Reichman, Jon Hebert, Matt Moran) and everyone was mezmerized. The Refuge trio is a gem, understated without being too floaty, and driven without ever feeling heacy. Versace switched back and forth between piano and Nord, and his Impressionistic, arpeggio heavy approach contrasted beautifully with Hollenbeck's very focused drumming (and melodica playing). And words can't really describe Theo Bleckman- every sound you think the human voice can make, and a few you didn't think of. Anyone who thinks "out" paying can't be straight up beautiful (and pretty) needs to hear this group. His setting of a short poem about a silo burning down was especially haunting.
And Claudia quintet, just go buy one of their CDs now. You owe it to yourself. Or, if you're within 100 miles, they'll be back at the Lily Pad tomorrow evening. Get there early- theres'a duo set with Jon and Djorrit Dykstra and a new trio with Versace and Hebert, then more Claudia. I won't be there, but that's no excuse.