Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best Albums Of 2010: The Vandermark 5

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 Vandermark 5 returned with a vengeance this year with their fifteenth album, The Horse Jumps and The Ship Is Gone. 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.

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...

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. They are one of the most important jazz bands not just in America but in the world.

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