Atomic / School Days
"This is wonderful fun to hear. This is not boundary-shifting music, nor does it aspire to great artistic achievements. But it's a great performance by a band (or is it two bands?) that really starts benefiting from playing a lot together. I would love to see this band perform live."
Disturbing Domestic Peace
"This is prime stuff. It's primitive when compared with their current wide-ranging output, but even then they were embellishing their their scratchy politico-punk with some interesting instrumental touches. Morse code keyboards, a chipped-flint guitar sound, distorted vocals, and the rhythm section's implacable forward motion make this worth a listen even if you don't care what they had to say."
"Dizzy Spells is good. Oh, it's damn good, all right. The Ex are experts at effectively jarring dissonance, but they're not just noisy, either; they're well versed in creating musical chaos. Granted, melody isn't too common, but when it does show up somewhere in the din, it's all the more welcoming. —Spencer Owen, Pitchfork"
Do Not Slam The Door!
Grenscó Collective Special 5 with Ken Vandermark
"Is there such a thing as coincidence? Perhaps. But in the encounter between István Grencsó and Ken Vandermark some kind of necessity seems to have been at work. If we compare the careers followed by these two artists in the last decade and a half or so, it seems as if their paths have intertwined, with parallels and intersections. This is far from being self-evident, because a fundamental consideration for both of them is constant renewal, and the search for ever newer forms of expression..."
The Rempis/Daisy Duo & Guests
"Dodecahedron is the pair's third duo recording, and it follows Second Spring (Aerophonic, 2014) and Back To The Circle (Okka, 2005). Both discs are taken from live performances. Disc one is made up of three duets between Rempis and Daisy, while disc two adds a third guest on each of its nine tracks. -Mark Corroto, All About Jazz"
"“Double Arc” is the culmination of projects conceived by Ken Vandermark written for the large working group the Resonance Ensemble. An assemblage of influences as wide ranging as film scores, 50’s NYC composers, 60’s free jazz, 70’s African funk, etc., “Double Arc” is an epic work that is creatively stimulating, foot stomping, and at times maddening music."
"Due to the closely interrelated interaction constitutive of a piano trio, the music is driven by a surprisingly stark rhythmic density, without falling into manifold routines or clichés. -Hennign Bolte, All About Jazz"
Bradford / Gjerstad / Nilssen-Love
"Legendary West Coast cornetist Bobby Bradford meets two Norwegians - drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and multi-reedist Frode Gjerstad - for a live performance at Klub Dragon in Poland. A free outing, the 6 tracks are relatively short, with "Pitaya" the longest at 11 minutes. The dialog is often quite subtle and well informed, using extended techniques and unusual twists and turns that are fascinating to follow. Which isn't to say that the trio doesn't fire up some serious power playing at points, but these three masters find their true language in intelligent interaction, of which there is no end to in these wonderful recordings. Highly recommended."
Elisabeth Harnik & Michael Zerang
""Austrian pianist Elisabeth Harnik seems to thrive in duo settings. Michael Zerang, a Chicago-based drummer, is with her on Dream Disobedience, a live recording made at Ljubljana, Slovenia in 2019. The conversation, unabated for 35 minutes, is rather subdued, Harnik usually initiating each new topic, alternating traditional approaches with more unusual in-the-box techniques while Zerang eschews straight timekeeping for a more reactive role, adding the musical equivalents of ‘Hmm!’ or ‘Uh huh!’ and other encouragements to keep things flowing. The episodic narrative progresses through short lulls followed by bursts of energy, as if small squalls were blowing through, a grand tempest arriving near the end, one final cloudburst before irenic frog croaks and bird songs return, the pond at peace." - Tom Greenland and The New York City Jazz Record (March 2021)"
Dropping Stuff and Other Folk Songs
Ig Henneman, Jaimie Branch, Anne La Berge
""... Three eccentric sketching women who succeeded in converting the concert hall into a spectacle with a drowned diesel engine on a race track, although it did not turn into a crazy fair. No, it was primarily an ode to the ingenious freedom, an intensely varied and colorful performance that was permeated by fun and games, but one of the kind that made your feelers and imagination run wild by its fresh originality, abrasive delicacy and unpredictable coherence." - Guy Peters, Enola Magazine "
Dual Pleasure 2
Ken Vandermark & Paal Nilssen-Love
"“Dual Pleasure 2” , a complex and grroving piece of independent underground jazz. A clash between the highly influential and innovative Chicago and Scandinavian jazz scenes that started in 2000 when the group "School Days" was formed. One year later they started FME, a trio with bass player Nate McBride. After this it seemed very natural to define a duo. Vandermark and Nilssen-Love use free improvisation as a means to explore all levels of dynamics, density, rhythm, timbre, form and tonality. The results of their work are experienced as intense, exhilarating, and boundary breaking music with a brutal beauty."
Ken Vandermark, Michael Snow
"Although he is best known as a groundbreaking experimental filmmaker, one of the architects of structural cinema, and visual artist, Michael Snow has been active as a musician since the 1950s. A brilliant keyboardist and occasional trumpeter, Snow was a key figure in Toronto’s improvised music scene, performing and recording with the ensemble CCMC, and as an improvising pianist he’s worked in myriad contexts with many of the world’s leading free players. Saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer Ken Vandermark first learned about Snow as a film student in Montreal, where the classic work Wavelength confounded and fascinated him. In 2015, Vandermark and Snow performed together for the first time as a duet, resulting in three astounding long-form improvisations. Their entire duo performance is released here, with an early painting by Snow adorning the cover."
Elisabeth Harnik & Andrea Centazzo
""The improvisations on this recording radiate with life and provide an expansive look into the deeper reaches of our minds. Each one completely engaged me, spurring my imagination in so many ways, taking me to new places that created landscapes with some vivid and unusual scenery. It was a fun listen by two master improvisers and the perfect antidote to another day in the confines of the Corona-Virus Blues. The power of improvisation. Its where it’s at my friends"- Steve Swell"
Early Bird Gets
"By expanding his pool of collaborative constellations, Chicago reedist Dave Rempis has found a variety of contexts in which to explore his fiery improvisational aesthetic. And there’s no shortage of heat produced on The Early Bird Gets, his first recording with the trio of New York bassist Brandon Lopez and Chicago percussionist Ryan Packard. -Peter Margasak, Down Beat"
East by Northwest
Ken Vandermark & Nate Wooley
"What struck me immediately about the show was just how full and vibrant of a sound they were able to create with just the two horns. No doubt a great deal of this had to do with their compositional approach - melodies and counter melodies stretching out the musical fabric between them, creating an atmosphere as much as actual notes and tones - but then toss in the sheer virtuosity of their playing and it is quite an ear opening experience. I picked up the CD at the show and am pleased to report that what I heard from the stage is captured wonderfully on this album (Paul Acquaro, The Free Jazz Collective)"
Een Rondje Holland
The Ex Orkest
"Rock bands and orchestras -- here's a worrisome cliché usually signaling the beginning of the end for a group of musicians getting too full of themselves or already on the nostalgia bandwagon. Of course, none of that applies here, for two main reasons. The first one is the Ex -- not your run-of-the-mill punk band, this Dutch institution has always been keen on collaborating with wide-ranging artists. The second reason is the orchestra convened here: 20 of Amsterdam's finest and most daring experimental musicians, from Palinckx's singer Han Buhrs to members of the ICP Orchestra (and of course all then-current members of the Ex, including Luc Ex). Obviously, Een Rondje Holland is not for every Ex fan, but those fond of the group's previous collaborations with Buhrs, Han Bennink, or Tom Cora will probably find it at least interesting. On the other hand, followers of the Dutch avant-garde scene who are usually put off by the Ex's punk rock but enjoy the ICP Orchestra, Splinks, or even Palinckx should definitely give this album a try."
Either Or And
Evan Parker / Sylvie Courvoisier
""Even though the duo can get confrontational, they also know how to turn their dueling into fun and communicate the pleasure they take in playing with each other." - Alain Drouot, Down Beat"
Elisabeth Harnik / Darren Moore / Tim O'Dwyer
"What are the elemental qualities of sound? How can we distinguish one instrument from another when an artist’s aim is to transcend the traditional domains? Elements offers answers to these questions posing sonic answers that unfold in the moment. A first time meeting, Elements features pianist Elisabeth Harnik, saxophonist Tim O’Dwyer and drummer Darren Moore. Recorded live in Singapore in January 2020 just prior to worldwide lockdowns, the pristinely documented album captures unadulterated exploration of sound where each artist lays down the territorial markers of their individual style towards shared modes of discovery."
Elements of Style, Exercises in Surprise
The Vandermark 5
"Seven releases down the road from 1997's Single Piece Flow, Vandermark's flagship quintet continues to serve as a vehicle for his original compositions, which span the range from hard-swinging bop to funk to energy music and the great uncategorizable beyond. The dedicatees on Elements of Style include John Gilmore, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Glenn Gould, and Max Beckmann, to name a few. As might be expected, the connections are not necessarily all that obvious, but not much about what Vandermark does is obvious, anyway."