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.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Not Two Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Nightfall CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by John Kelman
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Pekka CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read In the Still of the Night CD/LP/Track Review In the Still of the Night
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Zea CD/LP/Track Review Zea
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Asian Fields Variations CD/LP/Track Review Asian Fields Variations
by John Kelman
Published: May 21, 2017
Read Left Right Left CD/LP/Track Review Left Right Left
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 21, 2017
Read "Have Yourself An Alto Madness Christmas" CD/LP/Track Review Have Yourself An Alto Madness Christmas
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 21, 2017
Read "Nuit Blanche" CD/LP/Track Review Nuit Blanche
by John Kelman
Published: February 14, 2017
Read "Intersection" CD/LP/Track Review Intersection
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 9, 2016
Read "King of the Blues" CD/LP/Track Review King of the Blues
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 27, 2016
Read "Allison Philips Trio" CD/LP/Track Review Allison Philips Trio
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "Sounds of 3" CD/LP/Track Review Sounds of 3
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 18, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, and provide read access to our future articles.