Wednesday, October 25, 2017

DEK Trio - Construct 2: Artacts (Audiographic Records, 2017)

This is another very exciting collectively improvised performance by a powerhouse group consisting of Didi Kern on drums, Elisabeth Harnik on piano and Ken Vandermark on reed instruments. This album was recorded live in concert at the Artacts Festival in Austria during March of 2017, and it is the second part of a trilogy of albums falling under the broader Constructs mantle. These musicians have been performing together quiet a bit, beginning with Vandermark's residency at the Stone in New York City and in other festivals and club settings, and use the camaraderie they have developed to excellent effect. The music on this album consists of a three-section improvisation, beginning with "Xerox Collage" which opens with some initial probing, followed by everyone focusing on the music and building a very compelling performance, drawing upon a combination and collection of various ideas from music and art and using them as guideposts from which to build the performance. The drums and piano are freed from keeping a strict time or pulse and this allows Kern and Harnik to play in an unpredictable manner and really engage with Vandermark's saxophone in a raw and powerful performance. Vandermark drops out entirely for a section of expansive piano and drums and then uses peals of loud repeated and reverberating sound to embrace the other two instruments. This music has the ability to weave together quieter passages, and juxtapose them against great bursts of sound, using sections of solos and duets in addition to the full trio. The rhythmic conception of the music is full of surprises and open minded shifts, dropping to silence at some points. Vandermark moves through a range of reed instruments to develop a ever changing sound that is met by his partners, and it is turned into an exciting focused performance. A thrilling section of trio improvisation closes the first section of the performance in a memorable way. "Paper Tongues" gives the musicians more room to work with, developing a wider canvas for them to create upon. The music is dynamic and very active, it's energy bubbling just below the surface, creating a tension that powers the performance. It is music that patiently gains volume around the piano, building potential energy all the way, and then releasing it at just the right time. The music has a agitated nature that is quite interesting to hear and everyone in the group has an wide range of sounds to add to the interplay and the overall structure of the music. There is a short coda entitled "For the Birds" a taut and spirited improvisation that sums the entire performance up nicely. The DEK Trio seems to be one of Ken Vandermark's go-to ensembles, and it is easy to see why. The musicians are well matched for each other and have the ability to take composed or freely improvised material and make the most of it. Construct 2: Artacts - Bandcamp.com

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