Monday, April 19, 2010

Ken Vandermark and Paal Nilssen-Love - Milwaukee Volume (Smalltown Superjazz, 2010)

Saxophonist and clarinetist Ken Vandermark has played with drummer Paal Nilssen-Love on a number of occasions in many different settings. In 2007 they did a tour of the Midwestern USA as a duet, documented on CD's of their Chicago and now Milwaukee performances. This album features three long spontaneous performances starting with "Clean Sweep" which opens with probing squeaks and crashes, making way for high pitched clarinet and rolling drums. The musicians make much use of the space available and and use silence a way to sculpt the music into different textures. A drum solo breaks the calm and then Vandermark switching to tenor saxophone begins a dialogue that builds in intensity. The interplay builds taught and strong, building dynamically to an over driven conclusion. "Cause of Action" is a very abstract performance, swirling and probing and building ever so slowly. Percussive toots and squeals of saxophone over broken percussion are featured in a very open ended fashion. "Cut and Thrust," on the other hand, is one of the most audacious and fascinating performances of recent memory. Strong and deep baritone saxophone and ever shifting drums are overpowering in this stark and strong duet. The awesome depth and intensity of the performance recalls John Coltrane's epic "Chasin' the Trane" from the 1961 Village Vanguard Sessions. The two musicians keep up the punishing pace of raw toned and caustic baritone sax and pulsating drums for nearly twenty minutes before downshifting to a spare and probing section. Vandermark and Nilssen-Love really lock into each other at an almost telepathic level throughout this recording. Regardless of the tempo or pace the music remains interesting and dynamically focused. Milwaukee Volume -

Send comments to Tim.