Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Vandermark 5 - Annular Gift (Not Two, 2009)

The latest statement from this long running group was recorded live at the club Alchemia in Krakow during March of 2009. After a change a few years ago, the band has stabilized as Ken Vandermark on tenor saxophone and Bb clarinet, Dave Rempis on saxophones, Kent Kessler on bass, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello and electronics and Tim Daisy on drums. "Spiel (for Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill)" is a very long performance that opens the album with some cool riffing of the horns and wild electric cello before strong tenor saxophone and swinging Dolphy-ish alto propel the music into the stratosphere. At the 10:45 the music drops off dramatically, with bass and cello providing a drone for Vandermark to quietly improvise over on clarinet. Slow and spacey alto responds before the full band returns with strong collective improvisation to conclude the performance. "Table, Skull, and Bottles (for Bruno Johnson)" Has some medium up riffing and sawing electric cello before Rempis enters with a deep alto solo. A bass interlude heralds the entry of Vandermark with some agile and bluesy tenor. "Early Color (for Saul Leiter)" opens with slow, patient tenor saxophone and percussion. The music gradually increases in intensity and builds to a powerful conclusion. "Second Marker (for Ab Baars)" has a swinging opening over strong cello and bass. Vandermark's tenor solo is extraordinary and ripe with thrilling ideas throughout. "Cement (for Michael Haberz)" opens with subtle percussion before strong riffing horns come in to pick up and propel the music. Lonberg-Holm's electric cello is particularly interesting here, reminiscent of the work John Cale did for the early Velvet Underground. He is reeled back in for a hard and fast round of collective improvisation before Vandermark breaks free from the pack to soar like a majestic eagle with a great caustic tenor saxophone solo. "Cadmium Orange (for Francis Bacon)" wraps up the album with acoustic cello or bowed bass along with lightly blown horns. The music is light and nimble with the horns and bows squeaking and skittering freely. The music gets stronger at the halfway point with full-bodied riffing from the horns and guitar like distorted electric cello with heavy rock-like drumming. The music then builds to a strong and vibrant conclusion.This is one of the finest working groups in jazz and their commitment to musical adventure remains as true today as ever. The dedications of the compositions seem to really inspire Vandermark and his companions to make thrilling and very enjoyable music.
Annular Gift -

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