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Guest Chaney

Ken Vandermark

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I'm just now listening to The Vandermark 5's Simpatico and am completely WOWed.

I also have The DKV Trio's Live in Wels & Chicago, 1998 & Trigonometry (this one sounds a bit perfunctory) and Territory Band - 2 Atlas and Brotzmann's now OOP The Chicago Octet / Tentet (this one'll peel paint!) - all featuring Vandermark.

I've been eyeing other Okka and Atavistic titles with lust.

As Ken's (yes, we're on a first name basis :rolleyes: ) discography is rather HUGE, I'm wondering what other titles you folks might recommend. Any favorites?

KEN VANDERMARK: DISCOGRAPHY

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HELL!! I missed the Brotzmann! Anyone has a spare copy?

I only have one Vandermark disc so far:

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See more here.

I like it very much!

ubu

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This years Airports for Lights gets better with each listen

airports-for-light.gif

Free Jazz classics Vol 1 & 2 is great live versions of ... well free jazz classics

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Some Ken solo (partly in his living room) - Furniture music is the latest & is very good

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Ive not got enough KV so i'll be interested to see the other recommendations.

(BBC Jazz on 3 played a track from the new School Days Cd -it sounded up to the usual high standard - but its not out until the Spring unfortunately - heres the link thers some live Tim Berne on there also

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/jazz/jon3/jon3.shtml

)

Edited by Gary

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get this one first:

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and this one next:

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Vandermark w/ Hamid Drake and Nate McBride doing Sun Ra and Funkadelic covers. Great stuff!

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Those Spaceways Inc. albums didn't stick with me for some reason. I can't remember why. I kind of wish I had them so I could go back and listen again.

I'll recommend another V5 recording, ACOUSTIC MACHINE.

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Recorded in 2001, 2+ years after Simpatico, ACOUSTIC MACHINE is a another series of dedications to musicians (Shepp, Getz, Prez, Hemphill, Elvin Jones, and others), with short compositions dedicated to Morton Feldman interspersed.

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I second the rec on the Sound in Action Trio: Design in Time (Delmark) - KV, Mulvenna (D), and Barry (D). Excellent!

Also, very interested in the whole concept of Free Jazz Classics. Have V. 2 and like it very much.

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I would add to the list the second School Days recording on Okkadisk, In Our Times. IMO the inclusion of vibes adds some interesting colors to Vandermark's compositions.

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I would add to the list the second School Days recording on Okkadisk, In Our Times. IMO the inclusion of vibes adds some interesting colors to Vandermark's compositions.

this is my favourite

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I just ordered IN OUR TIMES from Chuck! I was unaware of this album. Thanks for the heads up!

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I heartily recommend the Joe Harriott Project recording.

Ken Vandermark’s Joe Harriott Project

Straight Lines

Atavistic: 1999

--------

John Reinschmidt

Minnesota

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The one Vandermark cd I heard that I really like is Design in Time.

His Joe Harriott tribute, Straight Lines, was a bit of a disappointment, and the Sun Ra/Funkadelic disc, Spaceways Incorporated was also nothing to write home about...

I've heard him live maybe 5 times in different musical incarnations and wasn't inspired to get into his music more.

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the village VOICE

Sax man puts money to work in more bands than you can count and more albums than that

One, Two, Many Concepts

by Tom Hull

January 7 - 13, 2004

hull.jpg

Asked how he could be so prolific, singer-painter-bandleader Jon Langford replied, "I'm brutally efficient and highly compartmentalized." Saxophonist Ken Vandermark could say the same. Like Langford, he moved to Chicago and catalyzed a music scene. Since the mid '90s he's juggled dozens of bands and released six to nine albums a year. Some of these are chance encounters: Get a set of musicians together, turn on the tape, and hope magic happens. But for Vandermark, purist improvisation is just one more concept. Take Free Fall, for instance.

Free Fall is Vandermark's clarinet-piano-bass trio, named after Jimmy Giuffre's famous 1963 album. But unlike Ken Vandermark's Joe Harriott Project (Straight Lines), this isn't a tribute band, just one that tries to create something new within the framework of Giuffre's lineup and language. Their debut, Furnace (Wobbly Rail), feels tentative. The first half (mostly Vandermark pieces) tests the band's parameters, while the second half (mostly pieces by bandmates Havard Wiik and Ingebrigt Haker Flaten) slouches into prettiness. But neither half sounds like Giuffre any more than, say, Mingus sounded like Ellington—most obviously, Vandermark's clarinet is dirty and musclebound, like his sax.

Free Fall is the second of Vandermark's album concept bands. The first was School Days, named after the Steve Lacy-Roswell Rudd Quartet album. Jeb Bishop plays Ruddish trombone, but Vandermark takes his cues from '60s saxophonists like Archie Shepp. As with Free Fall, the rhythm section is from Norway—Flaten on bass, and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums—and the band is fiercely responsive. Like Vandermark's, Nilssen-Love's jazz chops assume a rough-hewn physicality that derives as much from rock—a generational shift that crops up all over contemporary jazz. Nilssen-Love has cut several duo albums with saxophonists. The one with Vandermark, Dual Pleasure (Smalltown Supersound), is one of those improvised encounters where magic does happen—an intense, intimate, engaging clash of drums and reeds, each provoking the other.

Vandermark's concept bands evolve: Each distinct group opens up new opportunities, setting the initial concepts adrift. His trio with Hamid Drake (drums) and Nate McBride (bass, mostly electric) initially came together to record Spaceways Incorporated (2000), which interleaved Funkadelic grooves with Sun Ra spaciness. It was cool, but the follow-up, Version Soul, was groundbreaking: With all original material, it both expanded on the notion of funky free jazz and on the huge talents of the band. McBride's three tunes keyed off funk lines, while Vandermark's six followed his habit of dedicating pieces to touchstones—usually a musician, but sometimes an artist or a friend, anyone who inspires the germ of an idea—ranging here from ska keyboardist Jackie Mittoo and Sly bassist Larry Graham to the suave baritone sax of Serge Chaloff and the fiery tenor sax of Frank Wright.

Then there's Furniture Music, Vandermark's inevitable solo album. As far back as Anthony Braxton's For Alto, these things have usually been plug ugly, but Vandermark keeps this one fresh by switching horns (tenor and baritone sax, B-flat and bass clarinet), and keeping the intricately composed pieces short—this is not blow-first, think-later stuff. The Evan Parker dedication is shrill and warbly, the Lennie Tristano is neo-abstract bebop, the John Cage wanders, and the Jaap Blonk sounds like a foghorn on fire. A tough listen overall, but amazing.

But all of these are just side trips. Vandermark's flagship band since 1996, and the main showcase for his writing, has been the Vandermark 5. With two reed players, trombone, bass, and drums, Vandermark gets a big band sound out of a manageable group, much as Mingus did. And while he plays his parts, as with Ellington his real instrument is the band. Their latest album, Airports for Light, is the most complex and varied of the series, with standout pieces for Rahsaan Roland Kirk (which nails Kirk's tone and dynamism perfectly) and Curtis Mayfield (a noirish soundtrack that sets off the album's best solo), and a big-band finale whose connection to Sonny Rollins is less than obvious.

Vandermark's dedications say much about his relationship to tradition, which he mines assiduously for ideas, but his development of those ideas, and his own style of play, are unique. This may have something to do with how much history envelops us today. More likely, though, it's just that his father was a free jazz fanatic who turned his son on to the likes of Joe McPhee at an impressionable age. But the dedications also help organize his prodigious work ethic—expect another six to nine albums in the coming year. In 1999 Vandermark was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, in part (so he says) as an experiment to see what the money would make possible. If only all investments paid off so handsomely.

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From the BBC

JAZZ ON 3

Two unmissable gigs are coming up in the next couple of weeks. On Fri 9th Jan, there's a chance to hear the wonderful Dave Holland Quintet, featuring saxophone virtuoso Chris Potter and the octopoidal drumming of Billy Kilson, while on the 16th Jan there's more from the London Jazz Festival with a set from US/Scandinavian free jazz outfit School Days, featuring saxophonist Ken Vandermark. 11.30 pm, Radio 3.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/jazz/jon3/jon3.shtml

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I'll second the Voice reviewer's remarks about FURNITURE MUSIC. I just picked it up a month or two ago and it's quite a trip, one of the best non-V5 Vandermark releases I've heard. The Jaap Blonk piece in particular jumped out at me--I played it on the radio & thought it sounded like an EAS signal running amok (and I mean that in a good way! ^_^ ).

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FREEFALL is much better than the reviewer seems to suggest IMO

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Truthfully, having heard KDVM twice live & having heard three discs of his, I've yet to be at all impressed by him & am unwilling to spend further time on him. My impression was of a decent if limited R&B-style player, rather than a jazz player per se (the foursquare rhythmic sense & lack of harmonic flexibility suggest as much), though he typically surrounds himself with much better players. His heart seems in the right place, given the obsessive dedication of virtually every piece of his to artists he admires; but that's not enough to sell me on his own music.

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Nate: What's your asessment of Vandermark the composer and / or organizer as opposed to Vandermark the player? Aside from his heart being in the right place...

Edited by Chaney

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By the way, from the recordings I've heard, I tend to agree with your assessment on Vandermark the player.

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My impression was of a decent if limited R&B-style player, rather than a jazz player per se (the foursquare rhythmic sense & lack of harmonic flexibility suggest as much),

Couldn't agree less.

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Nate, that's exactly my impression of Vandermark. Yes, his heart is in the right place, and he's done a lot for the Chicago avant-garde (or whatever you want to call it) scene in terms of boosting and showcasing other usually younger players, but many of those players are a lot more interesting musically than he is.

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We've been down this road before.

Since "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", I'll say I like his playing & the players he works with.

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I don't have any firm impression of KVDM's composing & arranging; they seemed all right, if more functional than memorable. Is there something about them that struck you? -- I can't check my impression now of his compositions as I got rid of the recordings I did have, & am not likely to get any more: after having reviewed a few in the past, I've made it clear to my various editors I'm not very interested in reviewing any more KVDM discs.

As an organizer? Well, he surrounds himself with some great players, & is very good at the mechanics of promotion, touring, &c. I wish I could say I liked the musical results more.

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I received this Email today from KV's website -

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: February 2004

This is the first edition of an ongoing monthly article focusing on updates concerning my past and future work: details regarding concerts, tours, recordings and releases. I hope that you find the information interesting and informative! -Ken Vandermark

FALL 2003

Starting with the end of August, the end of last year was an exceptionally busy time. Rehearsals ran for the new large band project, The CRISIS ENSEMBLE (Jeb Bishop: trombone, Josh Berman: cornet, Dave Rempis: saxophones, Aram Shelton: reeds, Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello, Kent Kessler: bass, Jason Ajemian: basses, Tim Daisy: drums, Frank Rosaly: drums, myself: reeds), in preparation for a concert at the Chicago Jazz Festival on the 30th of August. In the middle of this period, the new reed trio with Peter Brötzmann and Mats Gustafsson performed in Mulhouse, France.

Immediately following, during the first week of September, the group ZU (from Italy) collaborated with SPACEWAYS INC. on a quartet/sextet project called Radiale that will be released on Atavistic in early spring. The quartet music was comprised of new, original material put together by ZU and myself; the sextet music documented the compositions the double trio performed during its European tour in May, 2003: “Theme De Yoyo” (by the Art Ensemble of Chicago), some Funkadelic compositions- “Trash A Go Go,” “Me And My Folks/You And Your Folks,” and Sun Ra’s “We Travel The Spaceways” and “Space Is The Place,” among others.

After this, the PETER BRÖTZMANN CHICAGO TENTET worked on a project in Bern, Switzerland and Karlsruhe, Germany involving a piece composed for the first time by someone outside of the band, Michael Wertmüller. This was followed by new work and recording by the duo with Paal Nilssen-Love in Norway. Our work together led to a double cd worth of material (studio and live) that will be released by Smalltownsupersound this spring. I stayed in Norway for another week after the duo project with Paal to perform concerts with FREE FALL in celebration of the release of our first album, Furnace (Wobbly Rail).

I returned to Chicago for a couple weeks in the beginning of October to perform with the VANDERMARK 5, Mat Maneri, and Joe Morris, then went back to Europe for a series of tours that lasted until the end of November: the reed trio with Brötzmann and Gustafsson; a couple of concerts by the TENTET in Tampere, Finland and Vasterås, Sweden; the VANDERMARK 5; and SCHOOL DAYS. It was an amazing series of trips, ranging from clubs to festivals, and taking place all over the continent and the UK. I’d like to thank all the people involved in making those concerts possible: musicians, listeners, presenters, and Erhard Hessling for co-ordinating the tours.

At the beginning of December FME hit the road in the States, playing ten concerts before returning to Chicago to record an album of new material with Bob Weston at Semaphore. Those recordings will be put out by Okka Disk in the end of April, in time for FME’s tour of Europe. Also in December, Peter Brötzmann and I mixed the TENTET material documented at the end of our last North American tour (2002), and played a concert together in Milwaukee with Kent Kessler and Hamid Drake. The new Tentet material will be released by Okka Disk in the end of March as two cds, including live material from the concert in November in Vasterås.

January has been of month of work finishing projects and getting prepared for what’s ahead. The ATOMIC/SCHOOL DAYS double cd, Nuclear Assembly Hall, was mastered for release by Okka Disk in the end of March. The FME album, Underground, was mixed, and the third TERRITORY BAND album, Map Theory, was mixed as a double cd for Okka Disk- this will come out in the end of summer to anticipate the re-grouping of the ensemble in Chicago in September. Another major project that reached finalization was the program for a new music festival in Athens, GA that I was asked to curate, ACME. With the extraordinary help of Julie Powell and Erik Hinds I’ve been able to organize what I believe is an exceptional lineup:

-April 1, Thursday

ATOMIC, PETER BRÖTZMANN/NASHEET WAITS DUO, AD HOC GROUP ORGANIZED BY JOE MORRIS.

-April 2, Friday

JOE MORRIS SOLO, THE THING & JOE MCPHEE, AD HOC GROUP ORGANIZED BY PETER BRÖTZMANN, ATOMIC/SCHOOL DAYS.

-April 3, Saturday

(AFTERNOON) FREE FALL, TRIAGE, JOE MCPHEE SOLO.

(EVENING) VANDERMARK 5, JOE MANERI TRIO, AD HOC GROUP ORGANIZED BY KENT KESSLER, PETER BRÖTZMANN CHICAGO TENTET.

-April 4, Sunday

(AFTERNOON) SCHOOL DAYS, JOE/MAT MANERI DUO, PETER BRÖTZMANN CHICAGO TENTET.

Look for more details at the website!

In February I’m returning to an active performance schedule, concerts with Joe Morris in a quintet with Nate McBride, Luther Gray, Joe McPhee, and a quartet with Mark Dresser, Gerry Hemingway on the east coast; the VANDERMARK 5, CAFFEINE, and the CRISIS ENSEMBLE in Chicago. Also, for the first time in more than a year, the DKV TRIO will be playing a show (Milwaukee). All concert details will be on the website

Edited by Gary

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I've seen Vandermark in concert quite a number of times, and tend to agree with Nate and Larry about his playing. It just doesn't seem to go anywhere special, a lot of repeated riffs and squeals.

That said, I have really enjoyed some DKV concerts. What succeeds is when Vandermark just keeps time with repeated riffs and lets Drake and Kessler work in front of it.

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