Friday, March 11, 2016

The Resonance Ensemble – Double Arc (2015)

The Resonance Ensemble

Ken Vandermark - baritone saxophone & Bb clarinet
Dave Rempis - alto & tenor saxophones
Mikołaj Trzaska - alto saxophone & bass clarinet
Wacław Zimpel - Bb & alto clarinet
Magnus Broo - trumpet
Per-Åke Holmlander - tuba
Steve Swell - trombone
Mark Tokar - bass
Christof Kurzmann - lloopp
Tim Daisy - drums
Michael Zerang - drums

Double Arc

MW 936-2

By Adam Baruch

This is a live recording by the Resonance Ensemble, an international gathering of Free Jazz / Improvised Music players led by American saxophonist / clarinetist / composer Ken Vandermark, which in this case comprises of eleven musicians, including two top Polish improvisers: saxophonist / clarinetist Mikolaj Trzaska and clarinetist Waclaw Zimpel. The music, all composed by Vandermark, is en extended two-part suite, each of the parts being split into eight and six sub-parts respectively. The music was recorded at the Manggha Culture Center in Krakow, Poland.

In his liner notes Vandermark describes this music as a summary of his career and a reflection of the many musical influences he has absorbed over time, which according to him can be heard in the specific sub-parts of the suite. He dedicates this album to the great Polish contemporary Classical composer Witold Lutoslawski.

Personally I find this music rather cold and unrelated to any specific musical associations, which is a typical American contemporary Free Jazz, which just is there to be there, i.e. has sense only during a live performance but repeated listening of the recorded music has almost zero chance to happen, as the music simply does not make a statement. I must be suffering from a very serious Vandermark overdose, but honestly there is not much revealing music here, which propagates the Free Jazz / Improvised Music (more or less composed), to a new dimension or uncharted territory. Even the usage of the electronic "lloopp" is not interesting enough to save the day. The large ensemble parts present here should be compared to the stuff that British and European composers / bandleaders like Mike Westbrook, Trevor Watts and others already perfected in the 1960s and 1970s.

There are of course brilliant individual statements as these musicians are all well seasoned improvisers and first class composers themselves, but their efforts with their own ensembles are much more impressive IMHO. Overall this album will be definitely of interest to the many Vandermark aficionados and other Free Jazz / Improvised Music fans, but considering how many recordings of similar musical language are being released in the last decade, it will simple blend into the background pretty soon.

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