Bebop-onomics haven't changed too much over the years, but lately it's been harder and harder to get paid and even more difficult to find good venues. Without a strong support structure in place for jazz/improv, we're seeing a return to simple things. Like early indie-rock pioneers, jazz bands are going city-to-city, in vans.
Case in point: New York-based drummer John Hollenbeck and his current working band, the Claudia Quintet, who are stopping in Portland to play the 411 Collective.
Over the past few years, John Hollenbeck has been making waves as one of New York City's more versatile and passionate musician-composers. Hollenbeck has absorbed elements from every corner of music--from contemporary classical music to telegraphic marches to mainstream jazz and funk to gamelan, West African, Middle Eastern and other pan-ethnic influences. The drummer capitalizes on his experience with Bob Brookmeyer's excellent New Art Orchestra, Meredith Monk, Argentine pianist Pablo Ziegler, clarinetist David Krakauer's klezmer bands and the Village Vanguard Orchestra. His writing is proof-positive that innovation in jazz needn't turn its back on the delicate, witty, ethereal and radiantly lyrical. Add to that a group of some of NYC's brightest lights who round out the quintet and you have one the most promising gigs of the fall.
Sadly, this fantastic quintet will be the last show for the 411 Collective. This vibrant artist-run space has (in a very short time) made a difference for local artists working in the improvisational arts, as well as hosting memorable gigs by legends like Evan Parker/Alex Von Schlippenbach/Paul Lytton, Perry Robinson and Wally Shoup. Times are tough for people committed to expressing themselves honestly in a society that places little value on either honesty or jazz. Let's send them all (the Quintet and the 411ers) off with smiles and best wishes. It's lonely out there on the road.
John Hollenbeck plays Tuesday, Nov. 4, at 411 Collective, 411 SE 6th Ave., 239-3829. 9 pm. $7. All ages.