Friday, October 15, 2010

The Vandermark 5 On Fire Again!

The Vandermark 5 (group)
The Horse Jumps and The Ship Is Gone (2CDs; Not Two Records)
Ken Vandermark (sax; clarinet)
Tim Daisy: percussion  Dave Rempis (sax)
Kent Kessler (bass)  Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello)
Magnus Broo (trumpet)  Havard Wiik (piano)

The Horse Jumps and The Ship Is Gone is The Vandermark 5's fifteenth album. For this outing Ken Vandermark takes the unique step of inviting two of his regular collaborators in his other projects, Magnus Broo (trumpet) and Havard Wiik (piano) (of the group Atomic) to sit in and it has some stunning results. The album features a number of tracks that appeared on the band previous two albums Annular Gift and Beat Reader.

It is rare to hear Ken Vandermark in any of his groups, with a pianist, let alone his mainstay V5. The other groups being Free Fall and the supergroup Atomic-School Days actually also include Havard Wiik as well as the full Atomic group.

The addition of the two Atomic member does add a bit more fire to the session. It seems Vandermark's material here is more challenging and each member has allot to counteract with throughout the recording. Things get started heavy with fierce opening number "Friction" where Wiik's heartpounding progression an intensity and urgency to band that I haven't heard in a few records. On the next piece, "Some Not All," the group subtle into a rhythm lead by the pianist and Tim Daisy on drums with some unbelievable work from Longberg-Holm on cello. The horn section led by Vandermark provides a wonderful battle like Godzilla vs all of Japan.

Wiik contributes to magnificent pieces to this set "New Weather" and "Green Mill Tilter", the latter featured recently on the Atomic live album, Theater Tilters (Jazzland). "New Weather" is nice and complex piece with the horn section leading the way in the early going and quietly giving way to some trio interplay by Wiik, Longberg-Holm and Daisy. Then returning to the horns for some rich, bold statements on each players part. Wiik has written a piece that suits V5 perfectly. Since each of the members have played with one another in very forms you have to except there is a great deal of knowing each others movements and strengths. Wiik and Vandermark have picked up on that perfectly throughout The Horse Jumps...

"Cadmium Oranage" begins with some swirling clarinet work by Vandermark that would make Jimmy Guiffre proud. The track becomes a melodic, avant funk workout for me reminiscent of Vandermark's work with another of his side projects, Spaceways. "Desireless" is beauty piece of avant garde in which Rempis, Vandermark and Broo have an interplay that uncanny drives the rest of the group forward. While Wiik's playing again standouts, its Kessler who is the glue that holds things together here. Kessler's propulsive work is the counterpoint rhythm that keeps the group in track.

And speaking of glue, "Cement' is another piece in which Daisy, Wiik and this time, Kessler lead the rhythm with the horn section coming in as cinematic response chords. It gets funky and it gets wild and before you know it--its over. This is amazing piece written by Vandermark which provides another set of opportunities for each member of ensemble to shine accordingly.

The final track "Nameless" hits you like a wildfire. The sheer ferocity of Rempis and Vandermark monumental playing here soon opens to a wall of distortion from Longberg-Holm and then returns to some quiet but humorous interplay between horns, piano and drums and finally a destructively perfect ending solidifying well rounded and accomplishing outing.

The Vandermark 5 as I have said before, are one of the few bands pushing jazz forward and beyond. The Horse Jumps and The Ship Is Gone is no exception. It is a compelling and sprawling work that challenges everything in free jazz and shows this American quintet plus two to be in peak form. The Vandermark 5 get better with each record. And I have to say this is probably in my top three favourite V5 albums ever. HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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