15 January 2014


1/14/14: Finished 3rd composition for Audio One in the morning, then set up for a Fire Room recording session with Thomas Oxem; by strange coincidence Paal and I bumped into bass player from Cato Salsa on the street, who recorded the only other studio album made by Fire Room so far, and our first recording, in 2006. In the evening I had a duo gig with Paal at Mir, the Danish bassist, Adam Pultz Melbye, opened. The duo was smoking, Paal hadn’t had a show since mid December and was READY TO PLAY, lots of intensity and speed, lots of cuts and turns, layers; really something. We celebrated with a late night snack and long talk about the music scene, what’s happening, what isn’t.

1/15/14: A day in the studio (really a rehearsal room with microphones brought in) with Fire Room started too early after a late night, 10am. Lasse Marhaug, Paal and I talked before playing about creating a “studio construction” (Paal mentioned our duo album, “Letter To A Stranger,” as a reference and Lasse was very interested in the idea too). The 1st half of the session was made of 5-7 minute “songs,” then a break for lunch. After that I took a catnap on the floor by my horns as we waited for Lasse to return from a meeting with Okyung Lee. The 2nd half started with a few more “songs,” then a series of very short (30-60 second?) non-developmental interludes, then a series of shifting “landscapes” (2-3 minutes). Though I was tired, the playing felt very strong and energized throughout, effective and different. It was an amazing week in Oslo: solo, duo with Mimmo, trio with Tilbury & Prevost for 2 days, duo with Paal, Fire Room recording session… such extreme differences in improvising approach, acoustic to electronic, spare to pure density, expansive to microcosmic. It’s what I live for! I got up at 6am on Thursday morning to catch a flight home and barely made my connection in Frankfurt due to snow (security actually brought me alone by bus through immigration directly to my gate so I made my flight), and got back to Chicago with all of my luggage- incredible!


All Ears Festival 2014, solo:

CKUral, 2011, Paal Nilssen-Love/Ken Vandermark duo:

Live in Brussels, 6/1/2013, Fire Room:

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