Friday, March 26, 2021

Ken Vandermark / István Grencsó / Róbert Benkő - Burning River Melting Sea (Systems vs. Artifacts / Audiographic Records, 2021)

While many of the albums that involve the great multi-reed instrumentalist Ken Vandermark involve ferocious and high volume free jazz, there his another side to his music, one that is deeply collaborative, playing thoughtful and intricate low volume improvisations. This album is a beautiful series of duo and trio recordings, with six new compositions by István Grencsó on tenor and alto saxophones, b-flat and bass clarinets and flute and Vandermark on tenor saxophone and b-flat clarinet, performed in a duo configuration, plus five completely improvised trio performances that add Róbert Benkő on bass. The music itself flows very well and in a tasteful manner, with the two reed instrument players developing short performances that have an impressionistic, artistic sensibility. The musicians shift their instrumental array during nearly each performances which gives the music a wide range of color and hue. The emergence of bassist Benko grounds the music but also fills out the sound, allowing their collective improvisations to take on an elastic form that can bend and twist in alluring ways. This album worked very well as a whole, and considering that they have been performing only intermittently, the thought of the duo or trio returning to the studio or the road as performing opportunities increase is an exciting one. The trio has a depth of creative understanding that allows them to work together with respect and dignity befitting the music they play. Burning River Melting Sea - Bandcamp

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