Title: Annular Gift
By: Vandermark 5
Released in: 2010
Catalog No: MW 825-2
Price : 12 EUR
1. Spiel (for Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill) [20:27]
2. Table, Skull, and Bottles (for Bruno Johnson) [10:45]
3. Early Color (for Saul Leiter) [11:42]
4. Second Marker (for Ab Baars) [09:31]
5. Cement (for Michael Haberz) [12:29]
6. Cadmium Orange (for Francis Bacon) [08:44]
Ken Vandermark - tenor sax & Bb clarinet
Dave Rempis - alto & tenor saxes
Fred Lonberg-Holm - cello
Kent Kessler - bass
Tim Daisy - drums
Multi-instrumentalist, composer, and bandleader Ken Vandermark has led his flagship ensemble, the Vandermark 5, through a decade's worth of personnel changes. Despite the band's rotating roster, the ensemble's sound has remained remarkably consistent. A powerhouse unit capable of serene delicacy as well as unfettered intensity, the quintet has won a legion of fans the world over for its uncompromising vision of contemporary creative improvised music.
The current line-up has been active for three years now, documented on two remarkable studio records, A Discontinuous Line (Atavistic, 2006) and Beat Reader (Atavistic, 2008). Annular Gift is this incarnation's first live album, documenting in crystal clear sound their unflagging energy and dynamic sensibility over two nights (March 14 & 15, 2009) at the internationally renowned jazz club Alchemia, in Krakow, Poland. The mammoth opener "Spiel (for Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill)" showcases the remarkable versatility of the newest member, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm. Negotiating the lengthy tune's numerous dramatic shifts, Longberg-Holm alternates between amplified and acoustic sonorities, veering from coruscating feedback to spectral pointillism. Typical of Vandermark's episodic writing, the piece eschews standardized forms, modulating through a series of stylistic changes that range from metallic funk to austere neo-classicism. The rhythm section gracefully complies with each transition as Vandermark's brawny tenor cries and tranquil clarinet musings contrast with Dave Rempis' serpentine alto salvos. The thorny harmonic changes of the boppish "Table, Skull, and Bottles (for Bruno Johnson)" provide fodder for a string of pungent soliloquies, including an especially trenchant alto screed from Rempis. Taking advantage of a brief respite, Vandermark reveals his bluesy lyricism on the somber beginning of "Early Color (for Saul Leiter)," before the piece builds to a caterwauling finale. Kent Kessler's quicksilver bass technique introduces the robust swinger "Second Marker (for Ab Baars)" and drummer Tim Daisy provides the labyrinthine "Cement (for Michael Haberz)" with a hypnotic groove, fueling Lonberg-Holm's kaleidoscopic ruminations and a climactic tenor saxophone duel between Vandermark and Rempis. The entire ensemble contributes to the punchy closer "Cadmium Orange (for Francis Bacon)," ending the set with a rousing assault of jagged angles and pugilistic downbeats. For many reasons, working groups tend to be an unfortunate rarity in today's jazz scene. For 11 years Vandermark has done a phenomenal job of keeping this group together, and not only vital—but inspiring. Annular Gift proves their second decade looks to be as promising as their first.
(Troy Collins, All About Jazz)
The latest statement from this long running group was recorded live at the club Alchemia in Krakow during March of 2009. After a change a few years ago, the band has stabilized as Ken Vandermark on tenor saxophone and Bb clarinet, Dave Rempis on saxophones, Kent Kessler on bass, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello and electronics and Tim Daisy on drums. "Spiel (for Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill)" is a very long performance that opens the album with some cool riffing of the horns and wild electric cello before strong tenor saxophone and swinging Dolphy-ish alto propel the music into the stratosphere. At the 10:45 the music drops off dramatically, with bass and cello providing a drone for Vandermark to quietly improvise over on clarinet. Slow and spacey alto responds before the full band returns with strong collective improvisation to conclude the performance. "Table, Skull, and Bottles (for Bruno Johnson)" Has some medium up riffing and sawing electric cello before Rempis enters with a deep alto solo. A bass interlude heralds the entry of Vandermark with some agile and bluesy tenor. "Early Color (for Saul Leiter)" opens with slow, patient tenor saxophone and percussion. The music gradually increases in intensity and builds to a powerful conclusion. "Second Marker (for Ab Baars)" has a swinging opening over strong cello and bass. Vandermark's tenor solo is extraordinary and ripe with thrilling ideas throughout. "Cement (for Michael Haberz)" opens with subtle percussion before strong riffing horns come in to pick up and propel the music. Lonberg-Holm's electric cello is particularly interesting here, reminiscent of the work John Cale did for the early Velvet Underground. He is reeled back in for a hard and fast round of collective improvisation before Vandermark breaks free from the pack to soar like a majestic eagle with a great caustic tenor saxophone solo. "Cadmium Orange (for Francis Bacon)" wraps up the album with acoustic cello or bowed bass along with lightly blown horns. The music is light and nimble with the horns and bows squeaking and skittering freely. The music gets stronger at the halfway point with full-bodied riffing from the horns and guitar like distorted electric cello with heavy rock-like drumming. The music then builds to a strong and vibrant conclusion.This is one of the finest working groups in jazz and their commitment to musical adventure remains as true today as ever. The dedications of the compositions seem to really inspire Vandermark and his companions to make thrilling and very enjoyable music.
(jazz and blues blogspot)