The DKV trio is a long running group with Hamid Drake (Drums), Kent Kessler (Bass), and Ken Vandermark (Woodwinds). This album was recorded live in 2014 at The Silver Maple in Milwaukee, WI. While Messr’s K and V’s contributions to this album are fantastic, it is Mr D who stands out most to me. His drum solos on “Faster Than it Would Be” and “20th Century Myth” are stunning examples of loose limbed grace. Each time I listen to each of those songs, I hear another cool aspect of Drake’s playing I missed the previous times, like examining a crystal from a different angle. A master class in percussion.
Free without losing it’s funk, this is a fantastic album by three modern masters at the top of their game.
Marker is a new ensemble from Andrew Clinkman, Steve Marquette, Macie Stewart, Phil Sudderberg, and Ken Vandermark. Two guitars, violin/keyboards, drums, and reeds, respectively.
The first song on Wired for Sound “Okinawa Bullfight (For Chantal Akerman”, starts out sounding like an outtake from a Wilco album, moves to a brief free improv section, and finishes with an Ethio-Jazz Sax workout.
The other songs are equally diverse, mixing Jazz, Rock, Soul, and Improv tropes with abandon and fervor. If you’re a, “please don’t get peanut butter in my chocolate,” kind of person, you may not enjoy Marker. Otherwise, hop on, strap in, and enjoy the ride.
Burning Below Zero by Elizabeth Harnik / Didi Kern / Ken Vandermark aka DEK Trio.
Wonderfully diverse playing both in terms of technique and content. Everything from Free Squonk to Classical to African Pentatonics shows up as you pass by. Just waiting for you to dip in and and sample. A cornucopia of thoughts and feelings, bursting at the seams.
Another perspective from EXEYE on the intersection between rock-ish concepts/players and improvisation. With the influence of Vandermark and Nilssen-Love, this skews more towards Free/Energy playing than EXEYE’s dark metal infused scree. Lean Left is definitely skronkier, but the woodwind players in both ensembles face similar problems of being heard over loud guitars and drums. Though, on this release, the guitars manage to restrain themselves and play quietly on a couple tunes. Invigorating way to start the morning.
The DKV trio, (Hamid Drake, Kent Kessler, Ken Vandermark) vs. The Thing, (Ingebrig Håker Flaten, Mats Gustafsson, Paal Nilssen-Love). It’s hard to pick what part of this album I like the best. The intricate, and often funky, polyrhythms generated between Drake and Nilssen-Love? The awesome low end and Arco work of Håker Flaten and Kessler? The virile, competitive, skronk-fest between Vandermark and Gustafsson? I hate to use a hackneyed phrase like, “It’s All Good,” but, it is ALL great. If this album doesn’t wake you up, you’re probably dead. (Also, it’s awesome that the Google dictionary has added “skronk-fest” to its auto-complete.)