Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Side A: A New Margin

Side A (group)
A New Margin (Clean Feed; 2011)
Ken Vandermark (sax; clarinet)
Havard Wiik (piano)
Chad Taylor (drums)

A Ken Vandermark record is always a welcomed addition in the JazzWrap office. And Vandermark's newest project, Side A is a massive inclusion to the catalog.

The trio formed last year but somehow it feels like they've played together for much longer; Vandermark and Wiik have been together in various projects (Vandermark 5, Atomic/School Days, and Free Fall). A New Margin (Clean Feed), the trio's debut, is a document of their collaborative efforts over the last year. 

Side A kicks the proceedings off with the slow moving and haunting "Boxer." It's like a mystery ride that never seems to end and you're constantly turned on to some new element in the piece. Whether it's the plodding downward keys of Wiik, the sky-rocketing velocity of Vandermark on sax, or Taylor's free-wheeling movement on the kit--this is a journey that's going to take many different shapes before its done.

"Arborizaltion" flows peacefully with each member improvising in between the space. It's not wild movements; more a steady pattern of ideas that all fold together in one harmonic gesture.

When "The Kreuzberg Variations" first came on I was startled by the spacial depth of the piece. It's a classical movement as the title would suggest but with more owed to the Steve Reich motif than Brandenberg. The piece builds and builds until its boisterous conclusion where musician and sound collide in what is quite a beautiful noise.

"Giacometti" is a blustery but euphoric number that sees the trio bouncing sound off each other. Taylor adds a delicate touch in the beginning, while Vandermark and Wiik create some vivid colour spectrums. This comes to a rousing denouement that nicely bookends the possession filled opening of the "Boxer."

Side A is yet another in long list of progressive outings from Ken Vandermark and company that challenges the way we think of jazz and how it will expand. A New Margin is by far one Vandermark's best projects (outside of Vandermark 5) of the last 12 months. Great stuff.

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