“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.
Most of the Vandermark 5 flew back to Chicago after the last gig of our European tour. Tim Daisy travelled by train to visit family in Zagreb. By chance, in the early morning light of the Wels train station, we saw him standing alone on the platform across from ours. Even from a distance you could see he was looking a bit gray; the previous evening’s celebration and the work of the tour had left its mark and taken its toll. The rest of us were doing about the same, and having to get up without much sleep in order to catch the train to Frankfurt so that we could collect the bass and baritone trunks before taking the plane back to Chicago, didn’t help matters much. Otherwise, it had been an excellent tour tour- strong music played for great audiences.
After arriving home, I quickly got back to work. Things began at the Hideout on the 13th of December, where I spun James Brown and afro-beat sides before and after the sets with a band put together by Mars Williams (which included Kent Kessler, Brian Sandstrom, Fred Lonberg-Holm and Frank Rosaly). The evening felt strange at the time, almost like I was hearing an odd version of the NRG Ensemble playing out of a dream. In retrospect it was even stranger to have picked James Brown’s music to feature on that night- he would pass away in little more than ten days.
My first concert in Chicago came on the 17th, on a double bill at the Hungry Brain which started with the duo with Tim Daisy, and then the quartet with Dave Rempis, Mike Reed, and Frank Rosaly performing the music of Sun Ra. A good night for percussion, and we had a nice surprise in the audience – Andy and Terrie from the Ex came by after driving all the way from Cleveland.
Tim Daisy is organizing a tour in the States for the two of us in late June/early July. I’m really looking forward to this, we’ve played together for years now but the way we work together in a completely improvised setting is totally different than that of other groups. Tim uses two drum sets, one a traditional jazz kit, the other more a “new music” percussion set up, and I’m hoping he lugs the two of them along when we hit the road. Without discussing it, the music feels as if it’s being built as an extension from the aesthetics described by Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell on the Mu recordings. Not sure if there will be more to do with the Sun Ra project, as much fun as it is to play his pieces with those musicians, I’d rather work towards music that is more strictly our own.
© 2021 Ken Vandermark – musician & composer | Disclaimer