The other concerts taking place during the month in Chicago were the Vandermark 5 on the 29th (playing at a benefit for the Jackson Diamond Fund at the Beat Kitchen), and Powerhouse Sound returning to the Hideout on January 3rd (my last gig in town before heading back to Europe to work). Also on the bill at the show at Beat Kitchen were the Engines (in quartet mode) who again sounded great, certainly one of the best bands currently playing in Chicago right now. The crowd was large and noisy when the V5 took stage, and we went into piledriver mode, forced to use the PA if we were going to be heard over the audience, and using the most relentless material in the book to compete with the party-like atmosphere in the room. This approach seemed to work, and everyone (including the band) had a good time. Before the quintet played I sat in briefly with Dianogah, playing some bass clarinet on one of their pieces- a lot of fun, and it was a pleasure to listen to them for the first time. Powerhouse Sound continues to develop at a steady rate, and each time we get together the music moves forward. One of the biggest problems we have is that the band members’ enthusiasm for playing together can translate into escalating volume, and this took place during our first set at the Hideout on the 3rd. After we put this problem in check for the second half of the evening, the band really took off, energy translating into creativity and rhythmic tension, not just an intensely loud dynamic level. This will be the group’s last gig in Chicago until April. After that, the band will finally have a chance to perform on a regular basis, during our first tour of Europe in May. I keenly look forward to hearing what happens to the music when we can take advantage of that opportunity.
Being home for a few weeks meant having a chance to catch some films at the cinema (“Aguirre, Wrath Of God,” by Herzog and “Rules Of The Game,” by Renoir); great to remember why I was a film student again. There was also a chance to catch a fine exhibit of the work of Charles Sheeler at the Art Institute Of Chicago; fascinating to see how the development of his personalized view of abstraction occurred. All in all a good month, and a nice creative set up before going back on the road in January, first with the Frame Quartet, then the free duo with Paal Nilssen-Love. Hope to see some of you there-
Ken Vandermark, Boston airport, 1/10/07.
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