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Paal Nilssen-Love/Ken Vandermark: Dual Pleasure

Mark Corroto By

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The association between Norwegian Drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and Chicago saxophonist Ken Vandermark has seemingly been one of continuously paring down boundaries and borders.

As members of the band School Days, the two musicians have met up with equal parts Chicago and Norway in quartet/quintet settings to make the records Crossing Division (2000) and In Our Times (2002). Later Vandermark and Nilssen-Love formed the trio FME (2002) with bassist Nate McBride. Each cropping away of players took away more form and structured music.

This duo recording for the Norwegian label Smalltown Supersound prunes things even more without amputating the vital essence.

Comparisons between this date and Nilssen-Love’s prior duo outing with Mats Gustafsson, I Love It When You Snore , defines the two basic jazz musician types. Gustafsson, a master improviser, explodes with ideas, hitting and missing in scattered brainstorming sessions. Vandermark, the consummate composer, weaves his free thoughts into a more coherent sound structure. Contrasting the two discs is compares apples to oranges.

But organization is not the be-all, end-all for these two. They create music on the spot that feels, at times to be composed. The symbiotic relationship between the two fuels the same. Whether Vandermark is treading lightly with his bass clarinet on “Storefront Materials” or charging forward with a tenor assault, Nilssen-Love has a measured response. The saxophonist’s intellect and preference for organized sounds finds a suitable match in the Norwegian drummer. Nilssen-Love is well versed in the schools of both Elvin Jones and Han Bennink, able to apply thunder or freedom where appropriate.

Dual Pleasure presents an excellent primer for further exploration of each musician’s individual works.


Track Listing: Flashpoint; Anno 1240; Closed Doors, Open Windows; Storefrony Materials; Jean S.; Dual Fiction.

Personnel: Paal Nilssen-Love - Drums; Ken Vandermark - Baritone Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Bass Clarinet.

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Smalltown Supersound | Style: Modern Jazz


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