The Vandermark 5: STHLM




The Vandermark 5


Simpatico (Atavistic ALP107CD)

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Ken Vandermark (tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet), Dave Rempis (alto sax), Jeb Bishop (trombone, guitar), Kent Kessler (bass), Tim Mulvenna (drums).

Composed by Ken Vandermark


Recorded: Chicago, December 12 & 13, 1998


Rating: 94/100 (learn more)

The title must be taken from the abbreviation for “Stockholm,” as this song is subtitled “for Mats Gustafsson,” the Swedish avant garde saxophonist. “STHLM” draws as much from European free jazz as it does from American forms of jazz and beyond. Starting out like German folk music played by deranged lunatics, the music breaks for Vandermark's mad tenor skronking; Rempis soon gets his turn to get unhinged with his alto on the next break. On the third abrupt stop, Bishop breaks out a heavy metal guitar, and the band joins in playing, finally in a conventional 4/4 time, until the beat fractures again. All the while, the remaining horns merrily play a Continental-style melody against Bishop's wah-wah'ed wails.

The energy, panache and the cheerful mash-up of genres make Vandermark 5 songs like this just too grin-inducing to dislike. Taking chances should always sound this fun.

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron


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