Friday, April 09, 2004

Spaceways Inc. Velvet Lounge; Chicago, IL 8/11/03

Spaceways Inc. is my favorite of the many projects that Ken Vandermark leads or is involved in. This groove based outfit with Nate McBride on bass and Hamid Drake on drums was originally put together to play the music of George Clinton and Sun Ra as they did on their first album Thirteen Cosmic Standards (Atavistic, 2000.) Their second album saw them reaching out even further, taking the groove of the first album and melding it to original songs written specifically for this band. The result, their second album Version Soul (Atavistic) was one of the finest jazz releases of 2002. An eagerly awaited third disc is due out shortly.

This set captures the band in its adopted hometown of Chicago, at Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge, on of the premier locations for creative improvised music in Chicago; a city that has a vibrant jazz and blues scene. The band improvises on a variety of themes from the first two discs, Vandermark's strong tenor works very well on the r&b themed music, but is always looking for chances to explore the music and pull it out of any potential genre ghettoization. Hamid Drake's drumming is as excellent as always, his grounding in the groove based rhythms of reggae as we as the polyrhythms of free jazz make him the perfect percussionist for this project. McBride is the gravitational center that both of the principles revolve around. He also gets some notable solo space as well.

This is an excellent band, and it's only due to the high demand for Drake in a number of bands as well as Vandermark's busy schedule that keeps them from playing together more often. If you ever have the chance to see this group in person, don't miss it!

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