The Vandermark 5 CD review [Atavistic]

Music Reviews
The Vandermark 5 CD review [Atavistic]
Sep 10, 2002, 22:01

THE VANDERMARK 5 Free Jazz Classics, Vols. I & 2  2xCD

I threw the new Vandermark 5 CD, Free Jazz Classics, on my stereo for the first time on a drizzly, chilly Sunday morning. Old school jazz remade by a fresh Chicago quintet seemed like just the thing to help me ease into the low-key rituals of the day.

Thing is, this isn't background music. I repeatedly found my attention straying from the newspaper to my speakers to figure out what these five guys would bring next. The first track, an Ornette Coleman joint called “Happy House,” jumps off with some oddly syncopated drums, then a skronky tenor sax moves in and it's on.

The Vandermark 5 rarely settles into repetition on this two-disc set, keeping each interpretation—whether inspired by Sun Ra or Archie Shepp—interesting. The players allow one another to stretch and contract, but a tight chemistry seems to keep any one of them from straying too far from home.

The Vandermark 5 built their reputation playing avant-garde originals during a six-plus year stint on Tuesday nights at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. On this collection, they tip a hat to their influences and walk away with a winner of their own. [Atavistic]

-Michael Coleman

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