All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

562

The Frame Quartet: 35mm

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
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.

The session unveils an array of evocative styles, including bluesy noir, pungent funk, and austere impressionism. "Multi-Chrome (for Peter Brotzmann, Han Bennink, Fred Van Hove)" opens the record with an ominous vamp that suddenly vanishes, leaving an electro-acoustic cello cadenza in its wake. A serpentine pulse materializes, leading the group through myriad changes before downshifting into a somber tenor and bass duet that precedes the recapitulated theme. The remainder of the album follows similarly unpredictable patterns.

"Lens (for Ennio Morricone)" modulates from pliant swing to syncopated grooves, intensified by blistering solos from Longberg-Holm and Vandermark before dissipating in a tranquil coda. The sober pointillism of "M.E.S. (for Merce Cunningham)" features the session's only completely acoustic performance, while "Theater Piece (for Jimmy Lyons)" is the album's epic centerpiece. Careening between movements, the piece vacillates from frenzied interplay to hushed aleatoric discourse, featuring numerous solo cadenzas and intimate duets. Ending the record with a burst of amplified abandon, "Straw (for Steve Lacy)" highlights Lonberg-Holm's spiky cello and Vandermark's scorching tenor in a variety of settings, from pensive silences to slashing electrified downbeats.

As one of Vandermark's most dynamic ensembles, The Frame Quartet rivals his flagship band, The Vandermark 5, for pure diversity of sound. But where The Vandermark 5 tends towards more organic compositional strategies, The Frame Quartet's audacious jump-cut aesthetic attains a distinct identity, making 35mm a unique item in Vandermark's oeuvre.

Track Listing: Multi-Chrome (for Peter Brotzmann, Han Bennink, Fred Van Hove); Lens (for Ennio Morricone); M.E.S. (for Merce Cunningham); Theater Piece (for Jimmy Lyons); Straw (for Steve Lacy).

Personnel: Ken Vandermark: tenor saxophone and Bb clarinet; Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello and electronics; Nate McBride: acoustic and electric bass, electronics; Tim Daisy: drums.

Title: 35mm | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Okka Disk

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read with whom you can be who you are CD/LP/Track Review
with whom you can be who you are
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Inner Core CD/LP/Track Review
Inner Core
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Dirigo Rataplan II CD/LP/Track Review
Dirigo Rataplan II
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 21, 2018
Read The Window CD/LP/Track Review
The Window
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Mønk CD/LP/Track Review
Mønk
by Chris May
Published: September 20, 2018
Read The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming CD/LP/Track Review
The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2018
Read "Say It" CD/LP/Track Review Say It
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 17, 2018
Read "City Of Light" CD/LP/Track Review City Of Light
by John Sharpe
Published: December 22, 2017
Read "Unbreakable" CD/LP/Track Review Unbreakable
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: July 31, 2018
Read "Life In Space" CD/LP/Track Review Life In Space
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 3, 2017
Read "Drifting Home" CD/LP/Track Review Drifting Home
by Jim Worsley
Published: November 7, 2017
Read "Ghost Music" CD/LP/Track Review Ghost Music
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 30, 2018