There's only a handfull of musicians who played more often in Alchemia in recent years. And only a handfull of musicians who constistently play at the level this duo does. A fact known well by Krakow audience which filled up completely the audience (corridor, backstage, floor) space of Alchemia.
Relentless drive. Punch. Kick. Scream. Speed. Power. Unlimited energy. Pulse. With Paal's unstoppable drumming Ken is pushed out of his limits of melodical and, especially so, rhythmic invention. Soulfull, funky, gritty, nasty lines burtsting with rock energy. Unstoppable like a train at full speed. Vibrant and agile like a rodeo bull, with charging drums kicking left and right and saxophone trying to stay at the top for as long as it's possible.
Sure it's true that there are moments of musical reflection. Lyrical, pensieve, sometimes with a ear-piercing clarinet tone (in complete harmony with the plates, resonating deep in my skull), or a deep, bluesy tone and delicate melody (both clarinet and tenor). This duo uplifts your spirit and takes your breath away when it's lyrical. Than smashes your body down onto the chair when it's energetic. (repeatedly).
Enthusiastic audience forces two encores, first one a powerfull, blowout piece (and indeed it's absolutely mindblowing), the second a meditative lullaby filled with suspened sounds of gongs, plates and air filling the clarinet.
Pure chemistry. Music's basics 1.01 - rhythm and melody. Goes straight to your body, heart, mind and soul. Not that they haven't done it before (seen them as a duo 5 times already). Who cares really how many times they do that? They kill each and every time they try! They will jazz-punk-funk-rock your socks off the feet. Brilliant.
Nough said. Go see them live, if you can't do that, get one of the cds. You won't regret it.
(photo by Krzysztof Penarski. From the duo's concert in Alchemia at 27.01.2007)
Ken Vandermark - tenor saxophone, clarinet
Paal Nilssen - Love - drums
Alchemia. Krakow. 25.10.2011
pasrt of Krakowska Jesien Jazzowa Festival