28 December 2005


The other performance focus on my return to Chicago was with the Vandermark 5. For three Tuesdays in December the group played at our old home, the Empty Bottle. It was the first time since April, 2004 that the band had done a show there. To have gone from nearly fifty Tuesdays a year buy generic online usa when we started during the late 1990’s, to three concerts in the last year and a half points out major shifts in the way I’m working today, nearly a decade later- more work away from home and a greater number of ongoing groups that I’m involved with each year. In addition, all the members of the quintet are also busy with their other projects. Yet there was nothing nostalgic about these shows. The band played new music to a new audience each week, and the quintet’s enthusiasm at being back and performing in Chicago must have really come across because the audience attendance grew each week: 100 on the 13th, 150 on the 20th, and more than 200 on the 27th.

Besides these concerts, there was studio work to do. The Vandermark 5 recorded the new book designed for the lineup with Fred Lonberg-Holm, two days at Semaphore with Bob Weston engineering. The good news was that it was cold enough outside to keep the snow on the roof frozen, so no water leaks to dodge while recording the tunes. The bad news was that it was cold enough outside that keeping the horns warm inside the studio was a challenge. It would have been easier to bring sweaters for the saxophones than to spend five minutes between takes rubbing the instruments to get them to thaw out enough to play in tune. We didn’t really want to sound like a marching band at a football halftime show during mid November. As always, working with Bob was fantastic and the basic tracks already sound great. After coming off from the weeks on the road in Europe the band was really prepared and loose in the best sense, and it felt like we walked out of Semaphore at the end of two days with material in the can for a very strong album.

In addition to that recording, there was the job of mixing the Bridge 61 session that we did with Bob during July. There was too much good material for inclusion on a single disk, so we had cut some pieces from the final sequence. For those that know the band, the selection and order includes: 1. Various Fires [Vandermark], 2. Superleggera [McBride], 3. Atlas [Daisy], 4. Nothing’s Open [McBride], 5. 29 Miles Of Black Snow [Vandermark], 6. A=A/b=b [Vandermark], 7. Dark Blue [Daisy], 8. Shatter [Vandermark]. The mix of tunes and composers, and the combination of acoustic and electric basses gives the album a very broad aesthetic range. The cd should be out this spring care of Atavistic records- keep your ears peeled.

Next up, trio work with Joe Morris and Luther Gray, and duo work with Pandelis Karayorgis, both projects on the East Coast; then the North American Vandermark 5 tour. 2006 begins by bolting out of the gate-

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