“I then began to compose a music dealing precisely with ‘inbetweenness’: creating a confusion of material and construction, and a fusion of method and application, by concentrating on how they could be directed toward ‘that which is difficult to categorize.’”
– Morton Feldman
from “The New York Schools of Music and Visual Arts,” (Routledge: 2002), edited by Steven Johnson, pg. 180.
Another motel. Finishing up the first ACME festival in Athens, GA. Almost all of the musicians have arrived at this point, still waiting for Mats Gustafsson and Kjell Nordeson who come in this afternoon. Nasheet Waits and Joe Morris arrive tomorrow, the Maneris and Randy Peterson on Friday… A lot to do, but it’s going to be an incredible 4 days of music and discussions!
The tour in March with the Vandermark 5 was pretty amazing: 8 countries, 15 concerts, great audiences and solid music. The highligt of this trip was the week in Krakow, Poland, however. A 5 night stand at the Alchemie Club put together by Marek Winiarski. Each night was packed with incredible listeners- attentive and enthusiastic. The band was able to rehearse each day before the concerts and worked on 3 new compositions that were written during the days we were there: Camera, Pieces Of The Past, and That Was Now. The group worked very hard that week, but the realization for all of us that this was a chance to really work in our ideal setting (a week in one city, playing the same club each night, trying out new music for a great audience every evening, organized by people who really cared and were excited by what was happening) kept us focused and driving. All 10 sets were recorded and the best material will be released on Markek’s label! early next year in cooperation with Atavistic. For all the people who attended and helped make those concerts such a success- a HUGE thank you from all of the band, it was really one of the highlights in our musical experience. My hope is that this approach to performance will become more the standard over the next years. The week in Krakow is a positive and concrete indication that the model of club performances for several days in one city can work economically, and it certainly is a better way for everyone involved to experience improvised music, far superior to festivals or large concert halls.
Right now the ACME festival starts. Tonight, presentations by myself and John Corbett concerning the idea behind the festival and an overview of Peter Brötzmann’s visual and musical paths. There is no need to give a rundown of the concerts and panel discussions that are happening over the next days, all that information is posted on the site, but I’d like to mention that my hope is that this will be the first of a series of festivals here in Athens devoted to music in the broadest sense. The first version of ACME is devoted to representing some of the strongest voices in contemporary improvised music, I’d like to see this develop into a music festival that incorporates all strains of music, the best that’s happening, whatever the genre. I believe that by presenting improvised music side by side with other great contemporary approaches: new composed music, rock, traditional music from around the world, etc. it will help pull improvised music into the public consciousness as a viable and vital form of music that is meant for all listeners. Imagine a day of music that included Derek Bailey, the Arditti String Quartet, The Ex, and a Noh performance? To my mind, THAT’S the direction I’d like to see the contemporary music festival move towards. All the people I know listen to several kinds of music, all the musicians I work with play several kinds of music- why should the genres be separated at a music festival? Let’s present the music as it’s heard and worked with!
© 2022 Ken Vandermark – musician & composer | Disclaimer