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Made To Break: Cherchez La Femme

Mark Corroto By

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Conceived in 2011, the electric/acoustic ensemble Made To Break has had the opportunity to tour and evolve as an improvising unit. The result, their third disc recorded in 2013, Cherchez La Femme reveals a truly engaged band. That statement wouldn't be unexpected if we were talking about a rock group or a jazz band for that matter, but Made To Break is a working improvisational group.

Credit, of course, goes to master organizer Ken Vandermark, a saxophonist who has the ability to attract diverse musicians into new and interesting settings. His recent passion for electronics, funk, reggae, and rock composing have created the groups Spaceways Inc., Fire Room, and Powerhouse Sound. Made To Break introduces those sounds into free jazz by intermingling the above ingredients with his conception of modular composition.

His journey into this music has led to this distinctive quartet. Drummer Tim Daisy 99 has been a co-collaborator since the Vandermark 5 days, and can he heard with Vandermark in duo and also with the large Resonance Ensemble with bassist Devin Hoff. The wildcard here is the electronic machinations of Christof Kurzmann. He first worked with Vandermark on the recording El Infierno Musical (Mikroton, 2011). His realtime manipulations via a software program called lloopp elevate his contribution to fellow improvising musician. In other words, unlike a DJ, he doesn't just comment on the proceedings, he participates.

Where the previous Clean Feed discs, Lacerba (2013) Provoke (2013) were made at the ensemble's inception, Cherchez La Femme boosts a fully integrated sound. The three lengthy pieces, all dedicated to women artists from photographers, painters, actor Bette Davis, and the riot grrrl punk band Sleater Kinney, ebb and flow from rocked-out funk to crackling electronic sizzle.

"Sans Serif" opens in duo with Daisy and Vandermark for four minutes before Hoff enters with a pulse that resolves into Kurzmann's electric insect infestation. His sonic disruptions seemingly push the music outside of composition, but a closer listen and his rumble, hum, and static offerings reveal them to be a musical accelerant. He can sample and loop notes by Vandermark, as he does on "Capital Black" creating a mirrored partner or mash-up to the thunder of Hoff's electric bass. The music shapeshifts several times within each track. Daisy's attentive ear is always at the ready for change as he drives the full swing of each piece.

The quartet is equally at home with open form improvisation and down home funk, this makes for ethereal improvisation that you can dance about.

Track Listing: Sans Serif (for Betty Davis and Sleater Kinney); Capital BZlack )for Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell); The Other Lottery (for Helen Levitt and Susan Meiselas).

Personnel: Tim Daisy: drums; Devin Hoff: bass 6; Christof Kurzmann: electronics (llopp); Ken Vandermark: saxophones.

Title: Cherchez La Femme | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Trost Records


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