Music » Livewire

DKV Trio

With Birth. Friday, March 23, at the Beachland.


DKV Trio
  • DKV Trio
Frequently, it takes decades for the public to understand the work of artistic innovators. But in the 20th century and beyond, even this slow process seems to have ground to a halt. People still don't get the stream-of-consciousness writing of James Joyce or the atonal compositions of Arnold Schoenberg. Therefore, it's probable that those who gave Chicago-based reedman Ken Vandermark a prestigious MacArthur grant viewed him as an avant gardist, when his style actually isn't so much innovative as rooted in the work of '60s free jazzmen. Despite the considerable evolution in jazz since then, a vast majority of listeners don't know what to make of '60s free stuff; therefore, Vandermark, known mostly for his tenor sax work, still sounds experimental to them. Adding to this impression is the fact that his work is violently expressionistic; he plays loudly and aggressively, honks, shrieks, and uses multiphonics, reflecting the influence of '60s tenormen such as Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, and Archie Shepp. Now some listeners dig a no-holds-barred approach, equating violence of expression with sincerity and depth of expression. These include not only some jazz, but also alternative rock fans and performers, such as Henry Rollins and Sonic Youth, who have for years been championing the playing of '60s free jazz stylists. With the DKV Trio, Vandermark appeals to post-boppers as well. On 1998's Live in Wels and Chicago 1998, he displays Sonny Rollins-like rhythmic ideas. His improvisation can be clich´-ridden, but he also improvises lyrically. When he appears in Cleveland, Vandermark will be playing with the DKV Trio, which also includes Kent Kessler, a percussive bassist who uses a bow well, and Hamid Drake, one of the best drummers on the Chicago scene.

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