February 2007

The Vandermark 5
Presented by Rough Idea + RMS Concerts
February 9, 2007Music GalleryToronto
Improviser and Composer Are the Same
by David Fujino with photo by Roger Humbert

A good whopping taste of something creative — that's what the Toronto audience got from the Ken Vandermark 5 from Chicago.

But Vandermark's gutsy baritone saxophone and the searing alto solos of Dave Rempis were only a part of the excitement the band brought to the Music Gallery this Friday evening.

The newest member in the band, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, brought a new range of sounds to the Vandermark palette — the sounds of ripped and swept textures, electronic feedback, the sound of radio static that gets wiped across a fingerboard, and dark hovering backgrounds.

Lonberg-Holm's sounds fitted right into Ken Vandermark's multi-part compositions with their abstracted references to a lot of musical styles and states of mind, running from R&B, Latin and Bop, to Modal, New Music, and Minimalism.

"Burden of the Truth" was at one point a walking bass line and a rhapsodic bowed blues playing that changed in mood and tempo several times before it concluded with the horns holding a single rousing note.

"Convertible" revealed the essential contribution of percussionist Tim Daisy and bassist Kent Kessler to the music's deeply emotional sub-text. They did more than indicate time. They made us feel time.

The theme of "Ladder" was, appropriately enough, a stepping up series of tones that abruptly turned into an assertive walking bass line, a burly baritone solo, and then a gripping duet where Vandermark's improvised baritone counterlines freely engaged with the deliberately placed alto tones of Rempis.

Ken Vandermark & Kent Kessler

Vandermark's compositions were distinguished by an effective use of tension and release, loud and soft volumes, a quiet sense of humour, and sometimes single repeated notes — all expressed in a global state of mind.

Make sure you catch Ken Vandermark, or Dave Rempis, or any of the band members, next time they're in town.

Catch something different — and real.

The Vandermark 5
Ken Vandermark – baritone saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet
Dave Rempis – alto and tenor saxophones
Tim Daisy – percussion
Kent Kessler – bass
Fred Lonberg-Holm – cello


We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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