It's hard to praise Ken Vandermark enough. His work with the V5 and his various other projects continues to stun and amaze. His special talent lies not so much in his playingwhich by itself projects an amazing amount of sensitivity and power, depending on the occasion. It's more that Vandermark has tremendous ability as a composer and bandleader. His compositions belie an unabashed openness to ideas, their development, and their superimposition. Straight up funk grooves erupt into shrieking noisefests, only to subside into gentle ballad swing.
The members of the V5 cooperate under his leadership on Burn the Incline to produce these amazing effects: the twin sax lead of Vandermark and Rempis powers forward under the propulsion of the versatile rhythm section of Kessler and Mulvenna. Bassist Kent Kessler gets his own time in the lead, and he uses it to advantage shaping the flow of the music. Guitarist/trombonist (!) Bishop steps into the fray on demand to lend chordal accompaniment, angular guitar solos, or a third lead voice on trombone. While the compositional thrust of any particular piece may specify a melody or imply a mood, the members of the quintet generally have the opportunity to explore their own unique personal vision. It's a near-perfect synergy of structure and freedom. Burn The Incline represents the fourth V5 outing on record, and it documents another leap forward in the maturity of this group. Vandermark fans, and anyone with open ears for that matter, should head directly to the record store and snap this one up. Passion and subtlety have rarely found so perfect a union.
Track Listing: Distance (for Joe Morris); The Cooler (for Pandelis Karayorgis); Late Night Wait Around (for Ab Baars); Roulette (for Nate McBride); Accident Happening (for William Parker); In Focus (for Per Henrik Wallin); The Trouble Is (for Misha Mengelberg); Ground (for The Ex).
Personnel: Jeb Bishop: trombone, guitar; Kent Kessler: bass; Tim Mulvenna: drums; Dave Rempis: alto and tenor sax; Ken Vandermark: tenor sax, Bb and bass clarinets.