All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Multiple Reviews

421

Ken Vandermark: Rebus, Foreground Music and Journal

Andrey Henkin By

Sign in to view read count








Joe Morris/Ken Vandermark/Luther Gray
Rebus
Clean Feed
2007


Ken Vandermark/Pandelis Karayorgis
Foreground Music
Okkadisk
2007


Bridge 61
Journal
Atavistic
2006




In the Daniel Kraus documentary on Ken Vandermark, the saxophonist is shown writing music, organizing tours, traveling to and playing gigs, the typical life of the titular Musician. What comes out of the film is some insight into a player who is known mainly through his numerous projects and prolific album output. Sometimes Vandermark can seem like the kid in high school who stayed at home working while everyone else was out on the golf course drinking beer. Perhaps he even was that kid but the results speak for themselves.

He is so dynamic an organizer and writes so much music that often his actual playing gets overshadowed. Certainly his style is unmistakable. Three albums though find him out of the role of a leader and playing music other than his own. Listeners will come away from the discs appreciating Vandermark the player and teammate and also gain increased appreciation on his own composing when contrasted against that of others.

Rebus is a trio under the presumed leadership of Joe Morris though nothing on the CD indicates this (no writing credits for the six pieces, entitled "Rebus 1 through 6). And though Morris had recorded with Vandermark twice before (in 1996 and 1998), it is a relatively young relationship compared with his other affiliations (Morris also had a Vandermark tune dedicated to him on the Vandermark 5's Burn the Incline). The music contained on Rebus, a word defined as a representation, is fascinating for its perpendicular nature. With Luther Gray's solid and expansive drumming, Morris and Vandermark play against each other, the former working vertically while the latter moves horizontally. This creates a tension that contrasts Vandermark in his own group, where forward movement generates much of the momentum. Here, on four tracks over 10 minutes and two at under 6, the music grows outwards, circular almost, appropriately to the title more representational than declarative. Also, Vandermark is heard exclusively on tenor sax, a deferential move since his baritone can dominate most proceedings.

On the same disc with the song in tribute of Joe Morris, another piece was for pianist Pandelis Karayorgis. The pair had recorded once before in a 1999 trio with bassist Nate McBride. On Foreground Music they are found in the intimacy of a duo, sharing song-writing responsibilities. Vandermark wrote all new music for the collaboration and sticks to tenor saxophone and clarinet. The opportunity to hear him in subtle dialogue with a pianist is intriguing. None of the usual bombast is here and even Vandermark's pieces seem geared towards the understated (though some of them are ripe for reworking for the Vandermark 5). And on the Karayorgis pieces, Vandermark is almost sedate, with little overblowing or punctuation. If Rebus is afternoon music, Foreground Music is there for settling in before bed.

But between them is music for a night out. And fulfilling that role is Bridge 61 with Vandermark, McBride, Vandermark 5 drummer Tim Daisy and bass clarinetist Jason Stein. The group existed but briefly and this is their only document, which is unfortunate. All the fire of the Vandermark 5 is here, with Vandermark using his full arsenal of horns. What distinguishes this album is the muscular songwriting of McBride and Daisy, players who have worked with Vandermark long enough to write towards his strengths (and he towards theirs). Many of Vandermark's recent projects, even including the Vandermark 5 since cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm joined, have moved towards the reflective (in relative terms). This session, recorded in 2005, is instead the brawny Vandermark.


Tracks and Personnel

Rebus

Tracks: Rebus 1-6

Personnel: Joe Morris: guitar: Ken Vandermark: tenor sax; Luther Gray: drums.

Foreground Music

Tracks: Lifgatowy; United Forces of One; JCT; The Clincher; Dreamless; Betwixt Title Without Year; Of Two Minds; Absolute Camel

Personnel: Ken Vandermark: reeds; Pandelis Karayorgis: piano.

Journal

Tracks: Various Fires (For This Heat); Superleggera; Atlas; Nothing's New; 29 Miles Of Black Snow; A=A/b=b; Dark Blue, Bright Red; Shatter.

Personnel: Ken Vandermark: tenor and baritone saxophones, clarinet; Jason Stein: bass clarinet; Nate McBride: acoustic and electric bass; Tim Daisy: drums.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Gene Clark sings For You and A Trip Through The Rose Garden Multiple Reviews
Gene Clark sings For You and A Trip Through The Rose Garden
by Doug Collette
Published: July 8, 2018
Read Steve Wynn: Kerosene Man and Dazzling Display Multiple Reviews
Steve Wynn: Kerosene Man and Dazzling Display
by Doug Collette
Published: July 1, 2018
Read Boyer & Talton and Cowboy Multiple Reviews
Boyer & Talton and Cowboy
by Doug Collette
Published: June 23, 2018
Read The Song Poetry of William Parker Multiple Reviews
The Song Poetry of William Parker
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 19, 2018
Read A Six-String Travelogue Multiple Reviews
A Six-String Travelogue
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 18, 2018
Read Dot Time Legends Series: Is Every Night New Year's Eve Around Here? Multiple Reviews
Dot Time Legends Series: Is Every Night New Year's Eve...
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: June 16, 2018
Read "Two Sides of John Wetton" Multiple Reviews Two Sides of John Wetton
by Geno Thackara
Published: October 20, 2017
Read "Holiday Roundup 2017" Multiple Reviews Holiday Roundup 2017
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 11, 2017
Read "Steve Wynn: Kerosene Man and Dazzling Display" Multiple Reviews Steve Wynn: Kerosene Man and Dazzling Display
by Doug Collette
Published: July 1, 2018
Read "The Art of the Duo: Keys and Reeds" Multiple Reviews The Art of the Duo: Keys and Reeds
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 11, 2018
Read "Emanem Releases New Music From Late, Great Heroes Lacy And Rutherford" Multiple Reviews Emanem Releases New Music From Late, Great Heroes Lacy And...
by John Eyles
Published: September 8, 2017