Ken Vandermark : Raw and Refined


The Live Versus Recorded Experience

AAJ-e: There’s a set of unreleased recordings of you and Paal Nilssen-Love performing as a duo at Norway’s Sting JazzKlubb in 2005. While reeds are typically mixed in front of drums, these recordings feature Paal up front and the result is phenomenal. With so many possibilities, how is instrumental placement determined in your recordings? Are they mixed with public expectation in mind?

KV-e: The recording you’re referring to is a bootleg concert tape, not a professional document. Paal’s up front because he was louder than me, we were playing acoustically and there are times when I can’t match his volume level on the drum kit. With all the label releases I’ve been responsible for, there has been a real effort to present the band as it would sound live, balanced in a club. Those are the kinds of albums I prefer to listen to so I like work with that kind of presentation.

AAJ-e: What are your thoughts on bootleg recordings? Do they serve a purpose as, for instance, the Grateful Dead believe? Or do they potentially harm the artist?

KV-e: My attitude towards bootleg recordings is that if I get a copy on an equivalent format, and if I am asked for permission, it is okay to make a tape of a concert. As I’ve already mention, having examples of the music to listen to and to compare can only help build an understanding of the reality of working with the improvised music process. When I collaborate with musicians who disagree with this perspective, I have told people who have asked that it’s not okay to record because I respect the artists who want to try and have more control over what’s available.

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