On Saturday we took the day off to breathe a bit, and everything felt more relaxed when we started setting up for the second A/SD concert. I reworked aspects of both of my pieces (severly for “Mirror Values,” less so for “Buñuel At The Cocktail Party”) which helped their perfomance considerably, and the knowledge of the other compositions was heightened exponentially. The band built on its own energy tune after tune, set after set, so the group was really tearing into the music on this night- one of those truly incredible concerts- and we were lucky enough to get the whole thing solidly onto a hard drive.
After celebrating until about 5am, Paal and Kjell left to go home on Sunday, while the rest of the Scandinavians had another show to do in the evening at the Hungry Brain. Two sets of improvised music: 1. Haavard, Fredrik, Jason Stein, Mike Reed, and Kent Kessler; 2. Magnus, Dave Rempis, Tim Daisy, Jim Baker (on piano and arp), and Ingebrigt. Even though I was quite wiped out from the schedule all week the music was completely captivating, great sets of completely improvised music and each group sounding totally different from the other. It was extremely interesting to sit back and hear how fantastic Mike and Tim sounded, and how their playing strategies were almost opposite, Mike’s flowing and Tim’s more cut apart, with each being so musically successful.
There was no time off before starting final preparations for the new Powerhouse Sound’s gig on the 27th. Two more days of full rehearsal before the concert and we could have easily used two more. For music that I thought would be so simple and straightforward when I composed it, I’ve found that this material is quite the opposite. Jeff Parker, John Herndon, and Nate McBride worked incredibly hard in order to get the music together. The difficulty seems to center around the fact that, though the music is based on a vamp methodology that sounded clear when I wrote it down, it ended up being built completely on assembling mixed meters; getting the music to flow correctly and NOT sound complicated ends up being REALLY complicated. This led to the first of the two sets at Schubas being somewhat tentative, which made the collaging technique I’ve been hoping to utilize impossible to get started. The second set really opened up and had the intensity in performance I have been hoping to get since the first version of the band performed at the Oslo Jazz Festival last August. You could tell that the music was lifting off because things kept propelling forward despite the technical collapse of Nate’s electronics and John’s cymbals flying off their stands (the band hits extremely hard) during the second half of the show. I was pretty concerned that the other guys would walk off stage never wanting to deal with these charts again, but thankfully that was not the case. When a listener came up to me after the first set, completely excited, to tell me, “this music has everything in it: Funk, Rock, Reggae, Ornette Coleman. It’s incredible!” I knew that we were getting some points in the material across. Now, to book more gigs for the band this summer, and mix the recorded, first version of the music in July. Until then the march goes on…
Ken Vandermark, Berlin, 5/2/06.
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