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 Title:               Past Present

 By:                  DKV Trio

 Released in:   2013

 Format:          BOX-SET (7-CD box-set)

 Catalog No:    MW 900-2

 EAN:              5901549185591 

 Price:             50 EUR

Past Present by DKV Trio box-set cover


CD 1

Chicago, July 15, 2009 


     1. Part 1

     2. Part 1

     3. Part 1

     4. Part 2


CD 2

Chicago, January 6, 2010 


     1. Set 1 - Part 1

     2. Set 1 - Part 2

     3. Set 1 - Part 3


CD 3

Chicago, December 29, 2010 


     1. Part 1

     2. Part 2

     3. Part 2

     4. Part 2

     5. Part 3

     6. Part 4

     7. Part 4


CD 4

Milwaukee, December 30, 2010 


     1. Part 1

     2. Part 2

     3. Part 2

     4. Part 2


CD 5

Milwaukee, December 27, 2011 


     1. Part 1

     2. Part 1

     3. Part 2

     4. Part 2

     5. Part 2


CD 6

Chicago, December 28, 2011 


     1. Part 1

     2. Part 2

     3. Part 2

     4. Part 2

     5. Part 3


CD 7

Bonus Disk - DKV plays the music of Don Cherry 

Sant'Anna Arresi, Sardinia, August 31, 2008


     1. Encore: Remembrance pt. 2

     2. Part 1: Brown Rice

     3. Part 1: Orfeu Negro pt. 1

     4. Part 1: Dios E Diablo

     5. Part 2: Introduction (by the DKV Trio)

     6. Part 2: Orfeu Negro pt. 2

     7. Part 2: The Thing

     8. Part 2: Remembrance pt. 1

     9. Part 2: Elephantasy

     10. Part 2: Music Now



Hamid Drake - drums

Kent Kessler - bass

Ken Vandermark - reeds


Past Present: a partial history of the DKV Trio, 1994 to 2011

"The whole approach of modern artists is in this will to trap, to possess something that constantly slips away." (Alberto Giacometti)

The DKV Trio formed in the summer of 1994. Our early years of work took place in Chicago at The Bop Shop on West Division Avenue, the Lunar Cabaret on North Lincoln Avenue, and at the original Velvet Lounge, when it was still on South Indiana Avenue. The band's first album, a limited edition CD recorded by Malachi Ritscher at the Lunar Cabaret and released by Bruno Johnson on his label, Okka Disk, underscored a transformation that was taking place on the Chicago music scene - new groups, new places to play, a new audience, new labels, new media coverage. Over the next several years Hamid Drake, Kent Kessler, and I expanded our Chicago base by touring in the U.S. and performing in Europe. We recorded a number of albums for Okka Disk along the way, three including other artists ("Deep Telling" with Joe Morris, "Double or Nothing" with the AALY Trio, and "Fred Anderson/DKV Trio"), but most of the performances and recordings were made as a trio. We developed our own language during this period, from the mid to late 1990s, one based on an approach to pure improvisation that created spontaneous "song-forms," self generating structures that were instantly composed. People often asked who wrote the pieces they heard us play, and most often our answer was that the material was created on the spot.

There was a significant exception to the approach that the trio took toward using completely improvised material - we loved the compositions of Don Cherry. Hamid had worked directly with him for many years and I believe the rapport he developed with Cherry's music had a profound impact on the music of DKV. When the band performed a breakthrough concert in Europe, at the "Music Unlimited" festival in Wels, Austria on November 8th, 1998 our performance started after one in the morning. The music that evening had been pushed back due to the delayed arrival of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. To this day I don't think I have ever been so tired as I was before the beginning of that set. DKV hit the stage opening up with a melodic line from Don Cherry's "Complete Communion". I still don't know where I channeled my energy from that night - perhaps the incredible rhythm section of Hamid and Kent or the creative flow of Cherry's music inspired me (probably both) - but the trio's gig that evening became one of our seminal recordings, half of the "Live in Wels & Chicago, 1998" album on Okka.

The second half of that album indicates the other most significant musical relationship for the band, our connection to the creative force of Fred Anderson. Hamid's ties to Fred were profound, and the group started performing at Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge very early in our career. Those meetings led to the idea of doing a record with Fred, which was recorded at Airwave Studios (also gone) on West Roscoe Avenue in Chicago, just weeks before the live session that turned into the Okka Limited CD mentioned above. In this case all the music was Fred's. I went down to the Velvet in the afternoons leading up to the recording to practice Fred's themes with him; the memory of those hours is beautiful for me and remains one of my most significant musical experiences. Throughout the years DKV would ask Fred to join us onstage in Chicago. It was always a pleasure- he invariably had a direct conduit to what is joyful about making music.

At the start of the new millennium the trio started to play less and less often, both in Chicago and abroad. There are several reasons for this but the fundamental cause was logistical - it became impossible to organize tours together because of the increasingly complex schedules involved. Then DKV began to get together occasionally after a new venue for jazz in Chicago, the Hideout, started a series called, "Immediate Sound"; the club remains one of the premier places for improvised music in this city. Speaking personally, these concerts somehow left me dissatisfied. I don't think that the music was unsuccessful, but for me it seemed like an experience of nostalgia, not one of forward motion. And nostalgia was never something that DKV had been about in the past.

Somehow I feel that the music of Don Cherry was, once again, a creative trigger for the band. We were asked to play at the Sant'Anna Arresi Jazz Festival in Sardinia on August 31st, 2008, during a program that celebrated the music of Don Cherry. From the opening moments of "Brown Rice", I could feel that something had clicked between Hamid, Kent, and I. The music played itself, the elastic language system we had developed together a decade earlier jumped back and the musical conversation that took place onstage was direct and clear, riveting for the players and listeners who were there. From that point on, it was self-evident that there was a proper reason to continue to play together as a trio. For DKV has a rare chemistry that goes past talent and personnel, beyond our own history together and apart. When we meet that chemistry creates an exhilarating musicality that is joy to explore together.

The recordings in this collection on Not Two Records represent the second phase of the DKV Trio, one that began in Sant'Anna Arresi in late August of 2008 and continues now into the second decade of the current millennium. 




For all the focus given to Chicago reedman Ken Vandermark’s various projects and worldwide associations, it’s his regular working units that are often the most rewarding. That’s not to say that, as a musician-composer, he hasn’t learned a great deal from collaborative units and one-offs or that they aren’t ‘good’ - that is clearly why Vandermark is as busy as he is. Yet there’s something to be gleaned from the adage that “the band that plays together stays together”, as challenging as it may be for globetrotting artists to do so. Not being able to work regularly necessitated a hiatus of the DKV Trio, Vandermark’s excellent group with drummer Hamid Drake and bassist Kent Kessler, though they have reconvened regularly since 2008.


The group is remarkably simple in its construction and approach. DKV is a collective improvisation ensemble rooted in earthy rhythms and spry, open-ended blowing; and while all three B O X E D S E T members are well versed in non-idiomatic free improvisation, the ‘spontaneous music’ that DKV engages is within the jazz tradition and fairly accessible. Not quite a power trio in the sense of The Thing or similar outfits led by saxophonists Peter Brötzmann and the late Mike Osborne, the supple and often trance-like rhythms and breakneck motion channeled by Drake and Kessler act as bedrock for Vandermark’s flinty, heel-digging tenor and baritone (his warbling clarinet is more sparsely applied, but part of the arsenal). The group’s feel is clearly aligned with fellow Chicago tenorman Fred Anderson and his trios with Drake and a revolving cast of bassists - indeed Anderson recorded with the DKV Trio and the group performed often at his Windy City club, the Velvet Lounge. While Vandermark is obviously not steeped in the milieu that produced improvisers like Anderson, Gene Ammons, Clifford Jordan and Von Freeman, nevertheless it is contexts like this that exemplify his range and blowing ability. Importantly, the band is not just a vehicle for the reedman - Drake’s expanding and contracting cross-rhythms and cracking, Blackwell-ian swing is a necessary part, as is Kessler’s throaty arco and callus-flaying pizzicato.


Another in a series of major Not Two Vandermark documents, Past Present is a seven-disc boxed set comprised of live performances waxed between 2008 and 2011, including a program of the music of Don Cherry (recorded at the Sant’Anna Arresi Jazz Festival in 2008). The latter is a rare instance of the trio engaging the work of a composer outside the group, at least in a literal rather than implicit sense. Of course, DKV make these pieces entirely their own, with Vandermark both jubilant and searing in his muscular, linear improvisations on tunes from “Brown Rice” to “Elephantasy”. All of the sets are very well recorded and convey the sheer workmanlike joy that these three musicians feel in playing together - “workmanlike” in that so much of their music is a matter of getting things done, imbued with a no-frills approach to improvising.


There is nothing extraneous here, just spirited and consistently powerful playing. Perhaps time away from the group allowed each of the band’s members to refine their approach; compared to earlier recordings the music on Past Present seems more incisive and the improvisations (especially those of Vandermark) effectively colorful. 18 years together and apart will necessarily generate a bevy of experiences that translate into deeper levels of communication and it’s clear that DKV has grown as a unit. That’s not to say every moment is perfection - this writer has never completely been able to get behind the backbeat sections that occasionally crop up with this group, though admittedly the groovy close to Disc Six’ second piece (all of the improvisations are untitled) is pretty fine. Furthermore, seven discs is also a lot to get through, especially with a format that’s pretty basic. Nevertheless, in going through the set one finds that any single disc “toe dip” will be rewarding and overall Past Present is extremely consistent. The set’s size shouldn’t deter anyone interested in these three musicians’ work and even if there are a few flagging moments, the process of hearing and assimilating the DKV Trio’s music is very worthwhile.


by Clifford Allen & NYCJR (January 2013)

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DKV & Joe McPhee

Collider album cover

DKV Trio / The Thing - Collider

Ken Vandermark

Unexpected Alchemy

Peter Brötzmann, Joe McPhee

The Damage Is Done

Four Side to the Story vinyl album cover

Ken Vandermark

Sound In Motion In Sound box-set cover

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