With the 16th official release by The Vandermark 5, composer/director/leader Ken Vandermark invites two guest musicians to share the stage. Norwegian pianist Håvard Wiik
and Swedish trumpeter Magnus Broo
are, however, no strangers to projects by the reedman and company. That familiarity yields this solid June, 2009 live date at Chicago's Green Mill.
Broo, an excellent inside/out player, can be heard in the European equivalent to the V5Atomic
and in The Angles. Likewise, Wiik is a member of Atomic and Vandermark's chamber music project, Freefall, with bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten
The V5-plus-two plays Vandermark 5 music, with the exception of one track from Broo, banking on the now patented Vandermark structured compositions that give way to plenty of soloing. The lineup of V5 with Fred Lonberg-Holm
is no longer new, the cellist fitting nicely into the band's structure for several albums at this point.
Heard here, this special edition draws music from three previous V5 recordsAnnular Gift
(Not Two, 2009), Beat Reader
(Atavistic, 2008), and the LP-only Four Sides to the Story
(Not Two, 2006)plus a new track, "Green Mill Tilter," which opens the second disc as a sort of Leonard Bernstein
tribute, before swerving off the road into a Wiik piano solo that blends sounds from both Thelonious Monk
and Cecil Taylor
. Like any good Vandermark piece, the music is marked by organized horn sections and embellished soloing.
The modernity of this work calls for standing back and absorbing the music as a whole, and inspect pieces and parts for their individual beauty. Indeed, Vandermark writes with simple beauty on "Early Color," with a delicacy and grace that opens up solos from Wiik, Lonberg-Holm, Broo, and drummer Tim Daisy
. He also rocks the house with "Cement," which opens with Daisy's solo and then rolls like an over-the-road trucker with heavy beats and swinging solos from others in the expanded group.
With the inclusion of Wiik and Broo, the Vandermark 5 never skips a beat and delivers a very solid effort.