Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

365

Vandermark 5: Annular Gift

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
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 Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Rising Tide" CD/LP/Track Review Rising Tide
by Geannine Reid
Published: May 16, 2017
Read "The Many Minds of Richie Cole" CD/LP/Track Review The Many Minds of Richie Cole
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: April 24, 2017
Read "Carry Fire" CD/LP/Track Review Carry Fire
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 22, 2017
Read "Rome" CD/LP/Track Review Rome
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 18, 2017
Read "The Roc" CD/LP/Track Review The Roc
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 6, 2017
Read "Acknowledgement" CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!