John Hollenbeck

Doris Duke Artist Award, 2012

Binghamton, NY

Genre-crossing composer/percussionist John Hollenbeck, renowned in both jazz and new-music worlds, has gained widespread recognition as the driving force behind the unclassifiable Claudia Quintet and the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, groups with roots in jazz, world music, and contemporary composition. He has earned four Grammy nominations—for his Large Ensemble releases, A Blessing (Omnitone, 2005) and eternal interlude (Sunnyside, 2009); for his composition “Falling Men” commissioned by the Orchestre National de Jazz and funded by the French-American Jazz Exchange (BeeJazz, 2010); and for his arrangement of Jimmy Webb’s “The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress” commissioned by the hr-BigBand of Frankfurt, Germany (Sunnyside, 2013). Hollenbeck’s awards include a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2010 ASCAP Jazz Vanguard Award. He is well known in new-music circles for his longtime collaboration with Meredith Monk as well as for his commissioned works for Bang on a Can All-Stars, Ethos Percussion Group, and Ensemble Cairn of France. He is a Professor of Jazz Drums and Composition at the Jazz Institut Berlin and a visiting Professor of Jazz at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

  • Photo Credit: Lukas Beck
  • John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble performing in the Vienna Concert House (2014)
  • Video Credit: Nika Bellianina
    "September 29th, 1936 Me Warn You," September (Cuneiform, 2013)
  • "September 12th: Coping Song," September (Cuneiform, 2013)
  • “Job,” What Is The Beautiful? (Cuneiform, 2011)
  • “Falling Men,” Shut Up And Dance (Bee Jazz, 2010)
  • John Hollenbeck and The Claudia Quintet performing “arabic,” 2009
  • Photo Credit: Bill Douthart

What are your key goals for the award period? What challenges, desires, drives or needs are inspiring these goals?

One word comes immediately to mind that encapsulates my aspirations: EXTEND. My principal goal is to extend awareness of my work as a composer and performer to audiences beyond those I have reached thus far. I aim to fulfill a dream in which I initiate four month-long residencies in New York, Berlin, and two other cities. During each month, I plan on performing four nights a week in an informal space with my Claudia Quintet, and with projects that I am a member of, but don't lead alone. I would offer a free daily event: a solo performance or informal workshop in composition or improvisation that would occur at noon in a storefront location with the visibility to draw in the curious passerby. These residencies will reach broader audiences at set locations, but I also aim to travel outward to impact underserved populations and economically depressed areas where the opportunity or finances are not available for live performances. I will present free performances that include Q&A’s and workshops with the hope of establishing meaningful connections with entirely new communities of listeners. Finally, I intend to extend my own creative process by seeking collaborations in the genres of dance, video, or theater.