Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ken Vandermark Resonance Ensemble - What Country Is This? [Not Two]

Ken Vandermark - baritone sax & Bb clarinet
Dave Rempis - alto & tenor sax
Mikolaj Trzaska - alto sax & bass clarinet
Waclaw Zimpel - Bb & bass clarinet
Steve Swell - trombone
Magnus Broo - trumpet
Per-Ake Holmlander - truba
Devin Hoff - double bass
Michael Zerang - drums
Tim Daisy - drums

Not Two 2012

I've written very briefly about this band's performance in the beginning of the year and you can check the old post for a bit of background history. "What Country Is This?" is basically is a result of the third meeting of the band, recorded in Chicago studio session after busy small-groups concerts and rehearsal schedule. If you know the previous recordings (especially the last year's "Kafka in Flight") you know more or less what are you going to get, which means you shouldn't hesitate to take another round.

Resonance is Vandermark's chance to experiment with massive sound, orchestral arrangements and structured group improvisation and he found just the right guts to to the job. The pieces are multi-layered, the riffs are gritty and down-right nasty, the double rhythm section drives you through as the horn sections chase each other in a dynamic exchanges of chords and solos and choirs and counter-point attacks.

There are three pieces on the album, and don't let me spoil the fun trying do give a mediocre description of the colourfull themes, full-scale horn attacks, and the continuous succesion of melodies, harmonies, abstract and concrete. You'll get blasting solos, minimalistic mini-plays, edgy avant-garde chords and downstraight blues grooves and rock energy (yeah!). Resonance as an unit (and it's mind-blowing how disciplined and yet how wild can those guys be) works in a perfect symbiosis between composition and execution because Vandermark's gift is in writing material that fits these musicians like a tailor-made suit - he finds a way to let all of them shine and collaborate and cover all the various fields of interest (funk, rock, big band, minimalistic, orchestral) without loosing vision of the whole thing.

You (should) know those musicians, you (should) know what they can do. And if you don't, and you're think you're ready to listen to all ten of them at once - I dare you. For my part, I'll just say they deliver the goods.
Vibrant, vivid, succint, stellar.

an excerpt from the cd are presented in this radio playlist.

PS. Although Poland was a birthplace of the band and Vandermark's composition reflect the source of inspiration (dedication to Czeslaw Milosz and Witold Lutoslawski on the tracklist) the cd was recorded in Chiago as the end result of a mini festival held in march 2011 at Chicago and Milwaukee.
The sad part to the story behind this recording is that Mark Tokar from Ukraine, whose muscular tone on bass was at a foundation of the Resonance' sound couldn't partecipate in the project, as the United States goverment denied him a visa (nevermind the fact he was invited and he's visit was to be sponsored entirely by the Polis arts foundation). Hence the title.

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