Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Vandermark, Ken (Kenneth Stewart)

Vandermark, Ken (Kenneth Stewart), tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet; b. Warwick, RI, 22 September 1964. His father is Stewart Vandermark and his mother is Sondra Hendry. His brother is Robert Gordon Vandermark, birthdate December 19, 1966.

He began playing trumpet in the fourth grade, switching to the tenor saxophone at age 16. Ken studied privately with George Garzone for a couple summers in the early 1980s.

During the years 1983-1986 Vandermark led the group Fourth Stream in Montreal, where he studied and graduated with a B.A. in Film and Communications from McGill University. During that time he also took private saxophone lessons with George Garzone in Boston. From 1986-1989 he lived in Boston and was the leader of the Lombard Street Trio. During this period he also began studying the bass clarinet.

In the Fall of 1989 Vandermark moved to Chicago and is now regularly working with a variety of ensembles, including the Vandermark 5, The DKV Trio, AALY, the Territory Band, Spaceways Inc., the Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet, School Days, and FME. He added the Bb clarinet to his instrumental arsenal during 1992, and in the Spring of 2001 he began work with the baritone sax. Aside from the schools of music influenced by the history of jazz, his music has been greatly impacted by sources like "Mississippi" Fred McDowell, James Brown, John Cage, the Ex, Gyorgy Ligeti, Sly and the Family Stone, Morton Feldman, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and various traditional musics from around the world.

From the beginning of 1996 Vandermark and writer John Corbett have been co-organizers of the "Empty Bottle Wednesday Night Jazz Series," concerts that continue to bring improvisers from Chicago, North America, and Europe to audiences on a weekly basis. In conjunction with the series they have presented six international jazz festivals (May of 1997-2000, April 2001 and 2002), also at the Empty Bottle. In 1999, he became a committee member for the "New Music-New Millennium Series" put together by Michael Orlove of the Chicago Cultural Center. He was asked to be the curator for the music series at the club Tonic in New York City for the month of August, 2001.

As a performer, Vandermark has toured extensively in the United States and Europe, performing at many internationally renowned music festivals.

He's been married to Ellen Marie Major since September 7, 1996.

DKV Trio: Frend Anderson/DKV Trio (1997), Live In Wels & Chicago (1998), Deep Telling (1999); Vandermark 5: Simpatico (1999), The Incline (2000), Acoustic Machine (2001);
As sideperson:
Steelwool Trio: International Front (1995); AALY: Hidden In The Stomach (1997), Stumble (1998); Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet: The Chicago Octet/Tentet (1998);
Sound In Action Trio: Design In Time (1999); AALY: Live At The Glenn Miller Cafe (1999), I Wonder If I Was Screaming (2000); Steam: Real Time (2000);
Lytton/Vandermark Duo: English Suites (with Paul Lytton) (2000); Spaceways Inc.: Thirteen Cosmic Standards (2000); Tripleplay: Expansion Slang (2000);
Karayorgis/McBride/Vandermark Trio: No Such Thing (2001); Territory Band: Transatlantic Bridge (2001), Atlas (2002); FME (free music ensemble): FME (2002);
Swedish Duos: Two Days In December (2002); School Days: In Our Times (2002); Spaceways Inc.: Version Soul (2002); AALY: Double Or Nothing (2002)
Television broadcasts:
A Vandermark 5 concert was broadcast on the BBC last December and a concert by AALY was filmed and broadcast in Sweden this Spring.
Unissued recordings:
There are literally hundreds of unreleased recordings made by Malachi Ritscher of concerts Ken's played in Chicago. He's got them organized and filed, (contact him at malachi@savagesound.com)

There is a full discography at seth@tisue.net

Vandermark has garnered much recognition for his musical contributions, including selection as one of the "Chicagoans of the Year in the Arts: 1994" by the Chicago Tribune (Jan. 1, 1995) for his work with the Vandermark Quartet. His group the Vandermark 5 was selected for inclusion the "Art In Chicago: 1945-1995" exhibition held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in that city from Nov. 16, 1996 to Mar. 23, 1997. 
New City has selected him as one of its "Music 45" (a list of 45 Chicagoans having the greatest impact on the nation's music industry, every year since 1998).
He placed first in the January, 1999 Cadence Reader's Poll as the musician receiving the greatest number of individual nominations for best recordings released in 1998, and was picked by Down Beat magazine in June as one of the "25 For The Future," the most significant improvising musicians under the age of 40 performing today.
In the Summer of that year he was the only musician, and the youngest ever, to be selected as a MacArthur Fellow.
He placed first in Downbeat Magazine's Critics' Poll for 2000 as the Jazz Artist Of The Year most deserving of wider recognition and has placed highly in that poll every year since.

Contact information:
His booking agents are: David Viecelli (boche@billions.com) for North America
Erhard Hessling (hessling-newthing@t-online.de) for Europe.

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