Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ken Vandermark w/ Barry Guy and Mark Sanders - Fox Fire (Maya, 2009)

Ken Vandermark is one of the great nomads of the jazz world, roaming the Earth in search of music to play and fellow travelers to collaborate with. This album is a double disc set recorded live in Birmingham and Leeds, UK with Vandermark on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Barry Guy on bass and Mark Sanders on drums. This album consists of two nice long sets of high energy free improvisation and the music is very exciting. The band is locked in tightly and listening to each each other with a great degree of empathy and understanding. Vandermark sounds very inspired by his British companions and blows with great gusto and masculine authority on the fast paced free pieces, while maintaining a bruised and vulnerable humility on the more abstract pieces. At times he really seems to be channeling the painter and physical artists that have influenced him into a painterly technique of broad strokes of music within a particular performance. Bassist Barry Guy is most well know for large ensemble works and compositions, but he thrives here as well, bowing and plucking his bass with great strength and dexterity. Sanders is a drummer that I wasn't familiar with prior to hearing this recording, but I was quite impressed with him as well. There is a fluidity to his playing that meshes perfectly with the other two musicians. Adding it all up, the results are very impressive. It is hard to pull out individual performances out for examination, because the music on both discs flows together as a whole with ebbs and flows like the tide. Fans of open ended free improvisation will find a lot to enjoy on this recording. The music is quite challenging (in the best way possible) and is bracing in its beauty and power.
Fox Fire -

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