Side A - A New Margin (Clean Feed, 2011)
One needs a continuous RSS feed all its own to keep up with the number of projects saxophonist, clarinetist and composer Ken Vandermark is involved in these days. This is a comparatively new project, a collaborative one featuring Vandermark with Havard Wiik on piano and Chad Taylor on drums. It is interesting to hear Vandermark playing in a group with a pianist, and a bassless one no less. But it works really well, and the music is consistently fresh and interesting, drawing its inspiration from the free-bop" of the late 1960's and adding thoroughly modern touches and flourishes. They come out of the gate hard with the pugilistic Boxer" and What Is Is." Vandermark cycles through a variety of horns throughout the album, creating a variety which is attuned to the nature of the music whether the up-tempo tunes mentioned above or the slower and more abstract Arborization" or Permanent Sleeve (Walking Hand)." On these performances, the trio slows the pace, and allows the music to develop in an abstract, organic manner. The finish strong with the pulsing Giacometti" bringing them full circle to the hot blooded fast and nimble jazz they began with. Vandermark is his usual excellent self through the album, giving his all whatever the instrument or the setting. Wiik, a member of the excellent Scandinavian jazz band Atomic, and Chad Taylor who is ubiquitous on the Chicago jazz scene are with him step for step, turning what could have been a soloist with accompaniment record into a true trio conversation. This was a consistently enjoyable and interesting album. The group plays with considerable passion and brings an air of freshness and joy to the proceedings.