143

The Vandermark 5: Free Jazz Classics Vols. 1 & 2

Frank Rubolino By

Sign in to view read count
The Vandermark 5: Free Jazz Classics Vols. 1 & 2 When Ken Vandermark released Burn the Incline a few years ago, the first thousand copies included a second disc of The Vandermark 5 playing classic compositions by noted jazz luminaries. Subsequently, the same promotional ploy was used on Acoustic Machine, with the band presenting yet another batch of music by noted performers/composers. This double recording packages both limited editions as a release of its own, and it is a welcome treat for the many not fortunate enough to have latched on to this music when initially offered.



Vandermark always doses out strong medicine, and since he normally prefers working with his own compositions, this tip of the hat to history and its makers is doubly meaningful. The band features a forceful horn section, with Jeb Bishop on trombone, Dave Rempis on alto and tenor saxophone, plus Vandermark playing tenor sax and clarinets. Bassist Kent Kessler and drummer Tim Mulvenna work overtime keeping the furnaces fueled underneath all this firepower. Even though the songs are recognizable, the group, as one would expect, puts its own unique twist on each to render them distinctly original contributions to improvised music.



The list of composers comprises a virtual who's who of notables. Starting with the bouncing music of Ornette Coleman and gliding on through works by Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, Joe McPhee, Sun Ra, Eric Dolphy, and Lester Bowie, disc one establishes a high standard. The music cooks, and the musicians appear to be having plenty of fun putting their own stamp on these pieces; yet the most rewarding factor is the way they immerse themselves into the divergent styles of the composers.



Interpreting Braxton and Taylor back-to-back, for example, is a very stiff challenge, yet the Vandermark 5 excels at donning a chameleonic coat and imposing its personality on the music. Similarly, when sensitivity is required to express emotions on McPhee's "Goodbye Tom B.," the band makes the heartfelt switch effortlessly.



Disc two, recorded a year later, documents the music of Archie Shepp, Carla Bley, Frank Wright, Jimmy Giuffre, Julius Hemphill, and Don Cherry. The same energy and empathy of the composers' concepts pervades the recording. Vandermark goes on a tear with Shepp's opening piece, followed by the nostalgic brass/reed cover of the ensemble theme that transforms itself into a 21st century update done in free time. Each composer gets individualistic treatment: Bley is presented with staccato abruptness, Wright with mournful soulfulness leading to euphoria, Giuffre with lilting effervescence, Hemphill with haunting sadness and earthiness, and Cherry with jarring momentum.



Throughout both discs, Vandermark springs loose with gutsy improvisations, Jeb Bishop imposes his will with robust blowing, and Dave Rempis places his stylistic mark on the procession in turn. They trade barbs spontaneously and create a collective fury during the ensemble sections. Thunderclouds abound from the downpour of counter rhythms unloaded on the front-liners by Kent Kessler and Tim Mulvenna. The program is up-front, driven, and power-laden, reaffirming the strength Vandermark is able to exude in the creative process. These live sets keep the adrenaline pumping for the duration.

Visit www.atavistic.com .


Track Listing: CD1: Happy House; 69L; Conquistador Part 2; Goodbye Tom B.; Saturn; Gazzelloni; New York Is Full of Lonely People. CD2: Wherever June Bugs Go; King Korn-Calls; The Earth-Jerry (The Moon); Scootin' About; C.M.E.-G Song; There Is the Bomb.

Personnel: Ken Vandermark: tenor saxophone, Bb & bass clarinet; Jeb Bishop: trombone; Kent Kessler: bass; Tim Mulvenna: drums; Dave Rempis: alto & tenor saxophone.

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Atavistic Worldwide | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Tyrant Lizard" CD/LP/Track Review Tyrant Lizard
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 2, 2017
Read "Los Guachos V" CD/LP/Track Review Los Guachos V
by Budd Kopman
Published: July 1, 2016
Read "No Parking Any Time" CD/LP/Track Review No Parking Any Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 5, 2017
Read "Beam Me Up" CD/LP/Track Review Beam Me Up
by Dave Wayne
Published: April 21, 2016
Read "Sedimental You" CD/LP/Track Review Sedimental You
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "The Digging" CD/LP/Track Review The Digging
by Budd Kopman
Published: July 31, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

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!

Buy it!