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Following the musical trail of Ken Vandermark in the present jazz scene is a complex task, not only for the sheer amount of his recordings, but also for the diverse styles he practices on each one.
In this case, the rhythmic expansive wave of Ken Vandermark & Cothe trio known as Spaceways Inc.joins Zu, a trio of Italian origins accustomed to move along the dividing line between avant-garde and harcore. Zu has recorded with Eugene Chadbourne on The Zu Side Of The Chadbourne (New Tone Records, 2000) and Motorhellington (New Tone Records, 2001), and the group has also played with Shellac and GirlsVsBoys.
Radiale is a not-well shaken cocktail. In the first part, Ken Vandermark comes into the Zu atmospheres to add his rhythmic strength to four original compositions. The Italian trio demonstrates the experience it gained during the concerts with Shellac: forcefulness. But the tenor sax of Ken Vandermark becomes the main character and steals the strength of the songs from the rest of the band.
The second part of this recording is very closein style, as well as in qualityto a previous record by Spaceways Inc., Version Soul (Atavistic, 2002). The four compositions are not originals: two versions of Funkadelic songs ("Trash a Go-Go" and "You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks") show the influence of soul in Spaceways Inc. music; a version of The Art Ensemble Of Chicago ("Theme From Yoyo") and a half-original/half-Sun Ra composition ("We Travel The Spaceways/Space Is the Place") also appear. In this second part of the CD, the rhythm section is supposed to be doubled, but the results of this experimentbroadly speakingare weakly appreciated.
In a few words, the contribution of Ken Vandermark's sax to Zu's compositions makes those songs grow in quality; the contributions of Zu to the Spaceways Inc. trio are dispensable enough.
This recording is far away from Zu's first album, Bromio (Wide Records, 1999), which became publisher's pick in this publication. For sure, this work will help Zu grow from the experience with Spaceways Inc., but we will have to wait till the next recording to see the results.
Track Listing: Canicula; Thanatocracy; Vegetalista; Pharmakon; Trash A-Go-Go; Theme de Yoyo; You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks; We Travel the Spaceways/Space Is the Place
Personnel: Zu: Tacopo Battaglia -drums; Luca T. Mai - baritone sax; Massimo Pupillo - bass;
Spaceways Inc.: Hamid Drake - drums; Nate McBride - bass; Ken Vandermark - reeds
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.