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Side A: A New Margin

Mark Corroto By

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It is quite rare to hear multi-reedist Ken Vandermark record or perform with a pianist, the reason being that, back in the day (the early 1990s), his brand of new Chicago jazz was presented much like the hardcore punk scene of the previous decade—out of the back of a van. Like Henry Rollins and Black Flag, Vandermark's life was one of constant travel, setting up and breaking down, only to move on to the next show.

Needless to say, his nomadic lifestyle was not conducive to trucking a piano around.

One of the few exceptions to the piano rule has been Norwegian Håvard Wiik—one-third of the chamber jazz trio Free Fall with Vandermark and bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and a guest on Vandermark 5's The Horse Jumps and The Ship Is Gone (Not Two, 2010).

Wiik's role in Side A, like that in his band Atomic, is to relieve Vandermark of his organizational role---order being a natural habit for a chordal instrument. With the saxophonist and drummer Chad Taylor, Wiik also shares in the songwriting, making A New Margin an invigorating take on the jazz trio.

Freed of the responsibility for song structure, Vandermark can focus on being a soloist. His tenor (and the occasional clarinet) tone is liberated, and sounds quite liberating. With Taylor's drums chasing Wiik's hammering piano for the first three minutes of "What Is Is," the saxophonist marches in response to the call. He sings the songs on this record, balanced and supported by Wiik and Taylor.

This trio also stabilizes this music without a bassist. The dynamic Taylor, best known for his work with the various Chicago Underground bands and the Exploding Star Orchestra, provides a constant energy here, maintaining a noisily free sound on "Fold" or supporting the abstractions of "Arborization" and "Permanent Sleeve (Walking Hand)." The session mixes the outward avant with some swinging bop-centered swing, even delving into {{Phillip Glass}|-like territory on Wiik's "The Kreuzberg Variations," building upon a repeating structure, only to be destroyed by entropy—sweet, free jazz entropy.

Track Listing: Boxer; What Is Is; Trued Right; Fold; Arborization; Enclilies; The Kreuzberg Variations; Comeing; Permanent Sleeve (Walking Hand); Giacometti.

Personnel: Ken Vandermark: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Håvard Wiik: piano; Chad Taylor: drums.

Title: A New Margin | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records


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