Recorded at Semaphore, Chicago, IL on February 4 & 5, 2008
The two volumes of Collected Fiction find Vandermark in the company of several bassists, including longtime partners such as Kent Kessler and Nate McBride and newer foils like Norway's Ingebrigt Haker Flaten or Holland's Wilbert De Joode. With the latter, we get the expectant "Ellipse 4," De Joode rumbling underneath a raw-and-damp haze of sustained clarinet tones. On the opposite end of the spectrum, this pairing also drops the jumpy and pointillistic "Torus 4," engaging in stealthily controlled but fully realized counterpoint, this time with Vandermark on tenor.
As might be expected, Vandermark is even more assured in the presence of old friends such as Kessler. Their playing on "Contour 1" is spellbinding, Vandermark's clarinet lines high and pointed, with Kessler providing a cushion of melodic complexity beneath. With McBride, the only collaborator besides De Joode on the second volume (Kessler and Flaten share the first), the relationship seems to be just as free, the two creating intricate webs around each other in the harrowing "Spline" with Vandermark on baritone. Every meeting is adventurous, demonstrating remarkable maturity.
All Music Guide
One more important record to the art of the reed & bass duets, now with Vandermark on reeds, and some of today's greatest modern jazz bassists: Ken Kessler, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, Nate McBride and Wilbert De Joode. Not only because of the variety of reeds used, and the different styles of the bass players, but also the approach differs greatly on all these relatively short improvisations. Some are fierce and wild, some boppish, and some are very sensitive and restrained, creating a kind of tenderness which is unusual for the usually muscular Vandermark. The sequence is Kessler (six tracks), Haker Flaten (five tracks) for the first CD, which is called "Day", and then McBride (five tracks) and De Joode (six tracks) for the "Night" CD. Although the pieces are improvised, they were rehearsed around specific thematic sounds, and the best take made it to the disk. The recordings were made on February 4 and 5 of this year in Chicago, the city where Vandermark, Kessler and McBride reside. The twenty-two tracks show a broad variety of angles for the sax-bass duo, demonstrating not only the skills of the musicians, but also the breadth of the subgenres of modern jazz, the wealth of possibilities of improvisation, using influences from blues over swing to bop and free. From Mingus over Giuffre to the wildest avant-garde, it is always brought with conviction, depth and focus, with Vandermark often a defining element in the music, yet sufficiently adaptable to match the styles of the four bass-players.