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Master Class with John Hollenbeck - Concentration and Ensemble Practice for Performing

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Gasometer B, Guglgasse 8
1110 Vienna

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An event by Music in Progress - Society for Applied Research in Jazz and Popular Music Vienna in cooperation with JAM MUSIC LAB University 

JAM MUSIC LAB students get the opportunity to work with the exceptional artist, drummer and composer John Hollenbeck.

Hollenbeck has been acclaimed for his unique twist on big band music – most notably through the work of the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, which trades the gale force blowing of most such bands for a multi-hued palette of tonal colors and rich, evocative atmospheres. Their third album All Can Work, pays tribute to the Large Ensemble’s late trumpet player Laurie Frink, a key force in the group and the jazz community. The JHLE received GRAMMY nominations for all three of its releases: All Can Work in 2018, A Blessing in 2005, and eternal interlude in 2008. John was nominated again in 2013 for his arrangement of Jimmy Webb’s “The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress” from the album Songs I Like a Lot, commissioned and recorded by the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, featuring vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckmann, and pianist Gary Versace. That album and its companion piece, 2015’s Songs We Like a Lot, puckishly reimagine pop songs by the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Daft Punk, Queen and Burt Bacharach with big band arrangements, transforming familiar songs with surprising insight and audacious wit.

Der Grammy-nominierte Schlagzeuger/Komponist John Hollenbeck gilt völlig zu Recht als einer der derzeit kreativsten und gefragtesten Musiker unserer Tage und mit dem „Claudia Quintet“ leitet er zudem eines der musikalisch außergewöhnlichsten Ensembles der New Yorker Szene; vielleicht das unverwechselbarste, das die Stadt derzeit zu bieten hat.

Concentration and Ensemble Practice for Performing   

The primary exercise used throughout this workshop seems very simple: to play short quarter notes with the ensemble, while subdividing the beat at a very slow tempo with eyes closed. The shortness of the notes and slow tempo makes it easy to hear if the ensemble is together or not. Eyes closed makes it impossible to use visual cues to help the musicians play together. This way, you must rely on your own internal time and subdividing. The simplicity of the exercise is why it is an excellent path to improve concentration and rhythmic precision skills.

The primary exercise will be varied with the addition of long notes, accents, dynamics, specific pitches on specific beats, individual playing and singing of the subdivisions (one at a time), improvisation on the subdivisions, ensemble inclusion of 1-5 extra notes on the subdivision, etc.

Benefits of the exercise: 

  • Increased awareness and power of concentration
  • Increased awareness and insight into sound production
  • Increased rhythmic awareness and strengthening of internal time
  • Practice of pinpoint listening skills
  • Increased skill involving ensemble listening and playing
  • Understanding and experiencing the power of unison “tutti” playing
  • Body awareness and posture
  • Awareness and practice of the efficiency "between the notes”
  • Increased ability to be “still", to be in the moment, to be conscious 


Sponsored by ÖSTIG