Despite the fact that the acoustics on stage were dramatically different than those where the band rehearsed, the points that the band was well prepared and that the sound technicians were excellent helped create a good playing scenario. Fred’s trio with Hamid and Harrison Bankhead played first, an extremely strong, melodic concert that was well received by the large crowd. The Territory Band set up quickly during the break and started “Collide” in front of an audience of more than five thousand people. The live sound in Millennium Park is the best I’ve ever heard at an outdoor venue, and my one regret about the concert was not being able to hear Lasse’s centerpiece from the vantage point of the listener, I am sure it was spectacular. Fred approached the piece as a real improviser, playing in places I didn’t expect and getting me to rethink my conducting as we went along. When the piece ended a huge part of the audience gave Fred and the band a standing ovation- an unbelievably gratifying moment to end the biggest project I’ve ever attempted in Chicago. Listening to the playback of the recording that Bob made I could hear each instrumentalist perfectly, a surprisingly well-defined sound even in the rough mix. I felt extremely confident that we left stage with more than a great performance, we left with a great document as well.
The excitement I felt was quickly overrun by the need to get equipment offstage and to coordinate the trip to the New Velvet Lounge for the final concerts connected to project. Fred Lonberg-Holm was asked to organize Thursday spots at the club during August and generously suggested bringing members of the group in to play on two occasions. This evening he put together two quintets; the first consisted of Axel Doerner, Kent Kessler, Paal Nilssen-Love, Dave Rempis, and David Stackenas. Their set was blistering. I was amazed by Axel’s physical and creative endurance, and David played guitar in a way that was unlike anything else he did over the course of the previous week, very linear and totally in the rhythmic pocket with Paal. By the time I walked onstage for the set with Jim Baker, Fredrik Ljungkvist, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and Paal, I was thoroughly exhausted. The week’s work and stress had hit me like a truck. The music started cooking immediately, however, and I got caught up in the tide of energy the other musicians were laying out; it was pure catharsis and a ball to play with the knowledge that somehow we did it. After the music was over and the people in the club started to disperse, Fred was still there. It is his place in every sense of the word. As I loaded out my instruments I thanked him for everything he put into the performance. He smiled and said, “Yeah, we really did something tonight.”
-Ken Vandermark, Chicago, 9/5/06.
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