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Composing Before Hearing With John Hollenbeck, on The Checkout

Scott Friedlander
John Hollenbeck

Listen to drummer and composer John Hollenbeck reflect on 20 years of his Large Ensemble with his new album, All Can Work, on New Amsterdam Records. The band celebrates the album's release tonight at Le Possion Rouge.

In our conversation, Hollenbeck offers an inside gimpse of his composing process, and describes how your ears can betray you and lead you down a less original path. He shares original music inspired by three paintings from different periods by the artist Piet Mondrian, along with two other absorbing compositions that come from mysterious places, one from his dreams and another out of thin air.

Hollenbeck's clever, disguised arrangement of Billy Strayhorn's "Elf" — better known as "Isfahan," from Duke Ellington's Far East Suite — appears in this week's Take Five.

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For more than 15 years, Simon Rentner has worked as a host, producer, broadcaster, web journalist, and music presenter in New York City. His career gives him the opportunity to cover a wide spectrum of topics including, history, culture, and, most importantly, his true passion of music from faraway places such as Europe, South America, and Africa.