365

Vandermark 5: Annular Gift

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Vandermark 5: Annular Gift Multi-instrumentalist, composer, and bandleader Ken Vandermark has led his flagship ensemble, the Vandermark 5, through a decade's worth of personnel changes. Despite the band's rotating roster, the ensemble's sound has remained remarkably consistent. A powerhouse unit capable of serene delicacy as well as unfettered intensity, the quintet has won a legion of fans the world over for its uncompromising vision of contemporary creative improvised music.

The current line-up has been active for three years now, documented on two remarkable studio records, A Discontinuous Line (Atavistic, 2006) and Beat Reader (Atavistic, 2008). Annular Gift is this incarnation's first live album, documenting in crystal clear sound their unflagging energy and dynamic sensibility over two nights (March 14 & 15, 2009) at the internationally renowned jazz club Alchemia, in Krakow, Poland.

The mammoth opener "Spiel (for Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill)" showcases the remarkable versatility of the newest member, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm. Negotiating the lengthy tune's numerous dramatic shifts, Longberg-Holm alternates between amplified and acoustic sonorities, veering from coruscating feedback to spectral pointillism. Typical of Vandermark's episodic writing, the piece eschews standardized forms, modulating through a series of stylistic changes that range from metallic funk to austere neo-classicism. The rhythm section gracefully complies with each transition as Vandermark's brawny tenor cries and tranquil clarinet musings contrast with Dave Rempis' serpentine alto salvos.

The thorny harmonic changes of the boppish "Table, Skull, and Bottles (for Bruno Johnson)" provide fodder for a string of pungent soliloquies, including an especially trenchant alto screed from Rempis. Taking advantage of a brief respite, Vandermark reveals his bluesy lyricism on the somber beginning of "Early Color (for Saul Leiter)," before the piece builds to a caterwauling finale. Kent Kessler's quicksilver bass technique introduces the robust swinger "Second Marker (for Ab Baars)" and drummer Tim Daisy provides the labyrinthine "Cement (for Michael Haberz)" with a hypnotic groove, fueling Lonberg-Holm's kaleidoscopic ruminations and a climactic tenor saxophone duel between Vandermark and Rempis. The entire ensemble contributes to the punchy closer "Cadmium Orange (for Francis Bacon)," ending the set with a rousing assault of jagged angles and pugilistic downbeats.

For many reasons, working groups tend to be an unfortunate rarity in today's jazz scene. For 11 years Vandermark has done a phenomenal job of keeping this group together, and not only vital—but inspiring. Annular Gift proves their second decade looks to be as promising as their first.

Track Listing: Spiel (for Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill); Table, Skull, and Bottles (for Bruno Johnson); Early Color (for Saul Leiter); Second Marker (for Ab Baars); Cement (for Michael Haberz); Cadmium Orange (for Francis Bacon).

Personnel: Ken Vandermark: tenor saxophone, Bb clarinet; Dave Rempis: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello, electronics; Kent Kessler: bass; Tim Daisy: drums.

Title: Annular Gift | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Not Two Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Such A Sky CD/LP/Track Review Such A Sky
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31 CD/LP/Track Review Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 25, 2017
Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "Clockwise: The Music Of Cedar Walton" CD/LP/Track Review Clockwise: The Music Of Cedar Walton
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "Two Of A Kind" CD/LP/Track Review Two Of A Kind
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 30, 2016
Read "Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works" CD/LP/Track Review Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "On The Radio: BBC Sessions 1971" CD/LP/Track Review On The Radio: BBC Sessions 1971
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 6, 2017
Read "Two" CD/LP/Track Review Two
by Joe Gatto
Published: May 23, 2017
Read "On Ceremony" CD/LP/Track Review On Ceremony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 17, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.