Jazz / Free Jazz
Brotzmann's mighty Tentet with Joe McPhee, Mats Gustafsson, Ken Vandermark, Paal Nilssen-Love, &c. live at Molde, Norway in 2007.
"Three compositions showing all the expressive force and spontaneity of these free improvisers. At Molde 2007 is a recording that could narrate all the accumulated experience and the communicative capability of this ensemble; a decade of genuine artistic effort by the Tentet from Chicago."
Peter Brötzmann / reedsJohannes Bauer / tromboneMats Gustafsson / saxophonesPer-Ake Holmlander / tubaKent Kessler / bassFred Lonberg-Holm / celloJoe McPhee / trumpetPaal Nilssen-Love / drumsKen Vandermark / reedsMichael Zerang / drums
Chicago Tentet - At Molde 2007
"Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist, composer and bandleader Ken Vandermark is widely known for paying homage to artists of various disciplines, regularly including dedications in his song titles to those who have inspired him. On 35mm, the studio debut of his newest ensemble, The Frame Quartet, Vandermark reveals his longstanding debt to cinema, not only in name, but in approach.
Filmmaking is an intensely collaborative medium, and The Frame Quartet embraces this concept implicitly; Vandermark is the sole writer, yet each of the album's five compositions is conducted by a different member of the quartet, except for "M.E.S. (for Merce Cunningham)." Though only "Lens (for Ennio Morricone)" is dedicated to an artist directly involved in film, all of the pieces embrace the art form's predilection for linear development. Eschewing conventional forms, these labyrinthine structures transition suddenly between modes, emulating cinema's narrative flow with dramatic shifts in tone that parallel the sudden splice cuts found in celluloid editing. Bringing these episodic works to life are some of Chicago's most resourceful improvisers, including cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, bassist Nate McBride, and drummer Tim Daisy—all veterans of Vandermark's numerous ensembles. Utilizing an array of raw, electronic EFX, Longberg-Holm veers from austere acoustic cadenzas to amplified torrents of coruscating feedback. McBride alternates between upright and electric bass, while Vandermark reserves his clarinet for introspective moments, unfurling burly, pneumatic cadences on tenor saxophone elsewhere." - All About Jazz
Recorded on 29 July 2009 at Strobe Recording, Chicago
The Frame Quartet – 35mm
"Inspired and relaxed duo compositions between Chicago's Ken Vandermark on reeds and Pandelis Karayorgis on piano performing original compositions. Vandermark dedicates one work to Derek Bailey, and one to Misha Mengelberg. Beautifully balanced work that alternately relaxes and incites the listener."
"The pair had recorded once before in a 1999 trio with bassist Nate McBride. On Foreground Music they are found in the intimacy of a duo, sharing song-writing responsibilities. Vandermark wrote all new music for the collaboration and sticks to tenor saxophone and clarinet. The opportunity to hear him in subtle dialogue with a pianist is intriguing. None of the usual bombast is here and even Vandermark's pieces seem geared towards the understated." - All About Jazz.
KEN VANDERMARK and PANDELIS KARAYORGIS - FOREGROUND MUSIC
"The first recording between Swedish dynamo Mats Gustafsson (tenor/baritone saxes & French glageolett) and Chicago's reigning tenor giant, Ken Vandermark (also on bass clarinet). The rhythm section consists of perennial Vandermark bassist collaborator Kent Kessler and Steve Hunt on drums."
Mats Gustafsson / tenor and baritone sax, french flageolett
Steve Hunt / drums
Kent Kessler / bass
Ken Vandermark / tenor sax and bass clarinet
Recorded on October 15, 1995 at Überstudio, Chicago.
FJF - Blow Horn
"Trio featuring Peter Broetzmann (A-clarinet/tarogato-alto/tenor & bass saxophone), Mats Gustafsson (tenor & baritone saxophone), Ken Vandermark (B-flat-clarinet - tenor & baritone Saxophone). Recorded live at the LOFT in Köln Oct. '03. 7 improvised pieces."
"No One Ever Works Alone has 24 possible saxophone combinations multiplied by Peter Brötzmann's indefatigability, Mats Gustafsson's percussive brilliance and Ken Vandermark's synthesis of the entire saxophone tradition. These three form the core of Brötzmann's Chicago Tentet, a marvelous large ensemble, and that vigor has been compacted here. Sonore is an example of how "free jazz", music that has no repertoire, no standards, relies on the head-on collision of different musical perspectives. Vandermark and Gustafsson here are quite different than on two projects released on the Oslo-based Smalltown Superjazz label." - All About Jazz
Sonore - No One Ever Works Alone
"Talk about powerhouse trios! Take the fastest rising saxophone star in improvised music, put him together with the most innovative bassist in Europe and the most inventive percussionist in the world, and what do you get? ...a magnificent meeting of minds recorded in the studio during a broadcast on Swedish radio in 1992. The distinct elements: Gustafsson's lightning-quick soprano, tenor, baritone and fluteophone (his own invention), Guy's gonzo technique and unreal preparations (scrub brushes, sticks, mallets, slides and multiple bows) and Lovens' precision timing, volcanic energy and brilliant use of timbre and texture...a trio more exciting and combustible (if that's possible) than the sum of its parts."
Mats Gustafsson / Barry Guy / Paul Lovens - Mouth Eating Trees and Related Activities
"Sonore's 3rd album, recorded at the Loft in Cologne both in concert and "in the studio" during December 2008. 22 pieces of Improvised Music that run the gamut of expressive energy and melodic power, as well as a composition by Brötzmann and Jimmy Giuffre. A thorough and exciting statement about where this trio was then and is heading now."
1. The Cuff 02:06 2. Mountains of Love 18:14 3. Snake Horn 14:11 4. Nurecognized Reflections 07:03 5. Charged By The Pound 15:09 6. Mailbox For An Attic 13:56 7. Call Before You Dig 03:36 8. The Ravens Cry At Dawn 04:52 9. Better a Bird Than a Cow 03:01 10. Human Fact 02:23 11. Iranic/J.Giuffre 03:11 12. A Letter From the Past 03:06 13. The Bitter The Better 02:12 14. The Longer The Lieber 05:42 15. Birds of the Underworld 02:59 16. Waiting For the Dancing Bear 02:24 17. A Dyed String 03:25 18. Hellpig 03:18 19. Zipper Backwards 03:16 20. Dark Cloud Blues 03:39 21. Blue Stone 04:41 22. Hardline Drawing 02:04 23. Rat Bag 04:43 24. Hard to Believe But Good to Know 03:33
Sonore – Call Before You Dig
"The first document of the intense one-on-one music created by Chicago percussionist Hamid Drake and German multiple reedman Peter Brotzmann ...and a revelation it is! The Dried Rat-Dog contains some of Brotzmann's most forceful, powerful playing, as well as his most lyrical and intimate. With Drake featured on hand drums, North Indian tabla, and frame drum, as well as trap kit, the polyrhythms and percussive ideas flow freely, and Brotzmann responds with earth-moving alto and tenor sax, tarogato, and clarinet."
"Brotzmann plays a host of reed instruments – including tarogato, e-flat clarinet, alto, and tenor – and Drake plays his trademark frame drum, plus tablas and a regular drum kit. 6 tracks of varying length, including "It's An Angel On The Door".
Peter Brötzmann / saxophone
Hamid Drake / percussion
Peter Brötzmann & Hamid Drake – The Dried Rat-Dog
1996 recording of a concert featuring Peter Brötzmann in the company of Chicago percussionist Hamid Drake and percussionist/singer Mahmoud Gania. Super nice percussive moments from Drake paired with dark vocal inflections by Gania on top of Brötzmann's gutsy tenor.
Hamid Drake / percussionPeter Brötzmann / saxophoneMaleem Mahmoud Ghania / sintir [guembri], vocals
1. Part 1 - 25:462. Part 2 - 25:153. Part 3 - 19:17
Recorded at Schlachthof Wels (Austria), 11/8/96
Peter Brotzmann, Mahmoud Gania, Hamid Drake - The Wels Concert
"A simple superlative: DKV Trio is the best working band in Chicago jazz. That's no small feat considering that its members work in lot of other combinations. Assembled in 1994 by reedman Ken Vandermark specifically for his recording project Standards (Quinnah), the group forged an instant bond that mandated further investigation. Drummer Hamid Drake never fails to provide a spark and when he and bassist Kent Kessler get on the good foot you can expect a bonfire.
Where many free groups avoid funky swinging or melodic materials DKV eagerly embraces them. The trio's open-ended, sometimes set-length improvisations unfold in sections: Drake and Kessler might set up a cyclical groove for Vandermark to dive into or soar above, then an insistent bass clarinet ostinato might free up the bassist to take one of his superb arco solos after which Drake might suddenly kick out a Max Roach high hat jam or hit the ground running with some infectious Afro-pop polyrhythms or reggae snare-centricity.
All three players are respectful listeners cresting space and letting the music breathe but challenging each other as well. Kessler benefits greatly from this simultaneous relaxation and prodding, turning in consistently original performances. And Vandermark, already well-known as a firebrand, is quickly emerging as one of the finest young balladeers to tote a tenor. This selling allows him ample room to dip deep into both bags. Each time out DKV invents a new context where daring exploration and pure corporeal pleasure shake hands and get down to business."- John Corbett, Chicago Reader
DKV Trio – Baraka
"If it weren't for a limited edition of a 2002 live set recorded in Stockholm, this would be the debut recording by this trio comprised of reed player Ken Vandermark, his longtime cohort Nate McBride on bass, and a more recent acquaintance, Paal Nilssen-Love, on drums. The session is divided in four epic parts that could also be divided into smaller segments considering the variety of moods, melodies, and tempos that are often dictated by Vandermark switching to a different instrument. The saxophonist/clarinetist is generally associated to the unbridled school of free jazz, but on this occasion Vandermark often sounds relaxed and mellow. The tradeoff is an occasional lack of focus which results in some meanderings, a pitfall that musicians can have difficulty to avoid when throwing themselves into such long improvised pieces. Musicianship is not at fault though. McBride's round and woody bass lays a sound foundation and Nilssen-Love once again accomplishes the feat of never repeating himself. It's just that the music lacks the intricate experiments of Vandermark's Territory Band, or the solid writing he has produced for School Days and the Vandermark 5. FME is a fine live band whose music does not make an entirely successful transition to the studio." - Alain Drouot
Paal Nilssen-Love / percussion
Nate McBride / bass
Ken Vandermark / reeds
FME - Underground