17 August 2006


The band drove home after the concert, arriving in Chicago around 3:30am Sunday morning. Nate had an early buy online forum afternoon performance at the Pitchfork Festival with Nels Cline, Jeff Parker, and Frank Rosaly, playing the compositions from Paul Bley’s, “Turns,” album. I missed this, but made it to the MISSION OF BURMA show later that afternoon. Not my ideal environment to see a concert, standing with thousands of people in the blistering sun, but the band still sounded great on both the new and older songs, amazing stuff. That night, Nate, Tim and I met up to play in a quartet with Steve Lantner at the Hungry Brain. From my standpoint, it felt that the music was best when Steve was playing in a trio with Nate and Tim. It seemed like I kept getting in the way. However, Steve said he felt the same in reverse, that the music was working better when he laid out; so it seems that in one way or another I didn’t connect with Steve’s piano playing in a way that I had wished. He is an amazing musician, and the recent recordings with Joe Morris on bass and Luther Gray on drums are really incredible, so I hope that I get another opportunity to try and work with Steve again- sooner than later.

After a somewhat frustrating stretch of performances, either due to environmental or musical conditions, it felt great to get together with Tim Daisy for the third installment of the Dialog Series and have an outstanding concert at the Empty Bottle on the 1st of August. Tim played on two drum set-ups, one was a standard Jazz kit, and the other was comprised of more percussive, unresonant sounds. All the music was completely improvised, but it had a bit of the character found on the completely improvised DKV TRIO shows where the group seemed to playing written material at times. The closest analogy would the Don Cherry/Ed Blackwell recordings, melodic but completely free at the same time.

On Wednesday the 2nd, the Chicago version of POWERHOUSE SOUND had its second performance, this time at the Hideout. We had been rehearsing as often as possible during the previous weeks, and the work really paid off. This was by far the strongest realization of the music in a live context; you could feel it by the response from the band and from the audience. Getting a chance to hear Jeff Parker utilize such a wide array of approaches to the guitar in one night was absolutely exhilarating, and John Herdon and Nate McBride are now driving the machine full throttle. Is it a Funk band, a Rock band, or something else? To get a chance to improvise with material these sources, and from Reggae, Noise, etc. is absolutely fantastic.

Of course, aside from the concerts, there have been a lot of other kinds of work on the music. During the start of August I completed assembling the materials for a double LP release by the VANDERMARK 5 on Not Two. This will come out in November as a follow up to the Alchemia Box (the recordings were made during the V5 tour of Europe last year, again live at Alchemia). Bob Weston and I needed to remix a cut from the Olso POWERHOUSE recordings on the 9th. Paal Nilssen-Love discovered a glitch in one of the drum tracks that must have occurred during the 2” tape transfer to the computer in Norway. After we finished that I went to the Hideout to listen to Kent Kessler’s, TODAY’S QUARTET, and Jim Baker’s Trio. Both groups sounded great, and getting to hear Steve Hunt and Brian Sandstrom play together again with Jim was a real pleasure. The next day Amos Scattergood and I headed to Weston’s house to master the new FME recordings so that they’re ready for release in time for the trio’s European tour at the beginning of October. On Friday the 11th, I went to the New Velvet Lounge for its grand opening and heard Fred Anderson take the stage with Kidd Jordan, Alvin Fielder, and Tatsu Aoki. Fred and Kidd played together beautifully, whether in tandem or in combination. The new space is surprisingly comfortable for a venue that’s just opened, an intimate place with great sight lines. This is going to be an exciting new phase in Fred’s career. Then on Sunday I went to hear X play at House Of Blues (of all places). To be honest, I was a bit skeptical that it was going to be little more than an act of nostalgia but boy, was I wrong. The group was absolutely tremendous, ripping through tunes with a furious energy. Kind of amazing that two of the best rock bands I’ve heard recently got their starts in the 1980’s and are still playing as well, and with as much passion, as when they began.

-Ken Vandermark, Chicago, 8/14/06

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