Luckily we had two more gigs in Norway to help pull the music together. This was the first time I had played in Scandinavia with a group that didn’t include Norwegian or Swedish musicans, and many thanks need to go to Paal Nilssen-Love for his help with making this leg of the tour possible. On the 10th the quintet played at Bla in Oslo, and a number of great musicians and friends made it to the concert, including Paal, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, and Haavard Wiik. Always great to play with people like this in the crowd- Paal shouting from the audience, probably enthusiastic because he finally had a night off. For me, the group really started to come together at the performance in Bergen on the following evening. As an ensemble we started to “get off the page” and into music throughout the concert- great stuff.
After Norway it was on to Spain, where we brought the Scandinavian rain with us. The flights were nerve wracking because the band had already paid about 650 euros in overweight fees for the bass and baritone since the tour started, and flying in and out of Spain always meant getting hammered by the airlines. But by some miracle this time we travelled without penality, not sure how we pulled it off and it felt like we had won the lottery.
The Vandermark 5 concert in Salamanca on the 16th was extraordinary, a sold out show of around 300, the band playing strong and clear, and the audience enthused and listening. Hard to work through the material and almost re-learn it while travelling, but everyone in the quintet is really here to play and create the best music possible- a great feeling every night. Having to follow the experience in Salamanca made the concert in Madrid somewhat difficult. The audience of around 40 at the club was quite fine, but something as simple as being able to see the music on stage and to fit in the required space was nearly impossible and made the process of trying to play extremely frustrating. We were forced to reverse our standard stage set up, flipping the location of the drums and cello, and this coupled with the fact that getting enough light on stage to read our charts made communication and cues difficult, to say the least. But based on comments from members of the audience that were shared with us between and after sets, it seems that despite these problems the
spirit of our music came across anyway, and I am happy for that.
© 2023 Ken Vandermark – musician & composer | Disclaimer