Ken Vandermark could never be accused of wasting time, and while this particular documentation of his music lacks the rarefied air of his work with the SIA trio from earlier in 2006, this programme comes from an aesthetically different place. Vandermark's artistry is far from mono-dimensional.
Also, the dynamics of the V5 are of a radically different order, and on "Aperture (For Walker Evans)" Vandermark's squally sound on the baritone sax can get a little wearing, not least because the sound and fury it amounts to comes across as nihilistic. In the resulting evaluation, the very detail of the SIA's sound seems a world away, but Vandermark redeems himself as a baritone player on "The Ladder (For Giorgio De Chirico)," where his sly melodic gift comes to the fore, as do the facts that this group is capable of being laconic, kind of archly knowing and a whole host of other qualities that aren't exactly out there in abundance.
I might be wrong in assuming that the Phillip Wilson to whom "Some Not All" is dedicated is the Chicagoan drummer, but the fact remains that the group's performance as a whole evokes that master's endearingly expansive way with a beat. Vandermark deploys his baritone here almost as a supplementary bass in places, and the effect makes for singular music, especially when Dave Rempis's alto sax comes on like the musical equivalent of a quizzically furrowed brow.
"Aperture (For Walker Evans)" takes the slightly slow-build route, and by about the ninety-second mark we're in the territory of a radically astringent form of lyricism. Here, as elsewhere, the squalls of sound serve a greater end, hinting at just how cohesive this group is. Ultimately, if the notion of five individuals thinking as one sounds persuasive to you, then you shouldn't hesitate to check this album out.
Personnel: Ken Vandermark: baritone saxophone, Bb clarinet, bass clarinet; Dave Rempis: alto and tenor
saxophones; Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello; Kent Kessler: bass; Tim Daisy: drums.