Friday, February 26, 2010

DKV Trio - Wels & Chicago, 1998 (OkkaDisk, 1999)

DKV stands for Hamid Drake on drums and percussion, Kent Kessler on bass and Ken Vandermark on reeds. This was a very exciting power trio playing at the peak of their abilites on this two disc set. Disc number one comes from a live recording of the group at the Music Unlimited Festival in Wels, Austria, and is remarkable for the trio's performance of trumpeter Don Cherry's "Complete Communion Suite." Originally recorded in 1964, it was a landmark effort that melded long form composition and free jazz. Without a trumpeter, the trio still manages to dig into the music and build powerful riffs that they are able to explore in very exciting ways. Each member of the trio is potent on their own way, with Drake's ever shifting and evolving web of percussion and Kessler's deep and thick bass tones. Vandermark references Cherry's melodies throughout the performance and uses them as springboards for excellent improvisations. The second disc of the set has three very lengthy performances recorded live at Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge in Chicago. The first performance, "Open Door" shows how well the band uses dynamics, shifting from loud to soft, and from free to abstract. But the second track, "Blues for Tomorrow," is the key, where the group becomes the epitome of a power trio, building a colossal collective improvisation, which is extraordinary to hear. This is one of many ensembles that Ken Vandermark leads or co-leads, and it is a very exciting one. Hopefully he will be able to return to this rewarding format soon.

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