Ken Vandermark : Raw and Refined


Invention Versus Discovery

AAJ: Is there such a thing as invention or is there only discovery?

KV: I would think that there’s invention. There are certain kinds of technical developments that people, I think, create and invent, you know? For example, Derek Bailey comes to mind ’cause he passed away recently. His approach to playing guitar, he invented a lot of that, at least by the way I define the word invention. He may have been influenced by other guitarists or other kinds of music even to realize his ideas on the guitar, but without question he invented a number of techniques on the instrument and certain kinds of tools that have been picked up by other guitar players since he developed them. So I would say yeah, invention is certainly possible.

AAJ-e: Judging by the large number of your recordings found published on Okka, you seem to have a fast bond with Bruno Johnson. Could you talk about your relationship with Bruno and how it started?

KV-e: When I met Bruno a little more than a decade ago I found out he was one of the few non-musicians who really knew and understood jazz and improvised music. Pretty soon after becoming friends he told me he was interested in branching out a rock 45 label he had, called One And A Quarter York, to include new improvised music—this became Okka Disk. The first releases on the label were Fred Anderson’s duo album with Steve McCall, and the Caffeine album, back in 1994 I believe. We’ve continued to work together because he’s one of the few people whose opinion I trust, and who represents the same attitude the musicians have towards the music through his label.

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