Made To Break – Provoke (CF 273)
Each of these three extended pieces is dedicated to great twentieth century innovators who specialize in distinct disciplines. Led by Chicago outside jazz luminary Ken Vandermark, the quartet derives inspiration from avant-garde composer John Cage, architect, author Buckminster Fuller and philosopher, media theorist Marshall McLuhan. And as expected, the compositions are not thin or one-dimensional by design, yet from a semi-structured and improvisational standpoint, offer much in the way of excitement and entertainment. Vandermark also imparts some of the funk grooves encountered with his Spaceways Incorporated band, and Christof Kurzmann’s electronics inject a curiously interesting ingredient into the mix.
The final piece, “Of The Facts (for Marshall McLuhan),” opens with Vandermark’s subdued and reflective lines, perhaps indicative of McLuhan engaging in deep thought. And with Kurzmann’s subtle electronics and drummer Timothy Daisy’s accenting cymbals, the band creates a mood that thrives via the saxophonist’s peppery choruses atop electric bassist Devin Hoff ‘s firm ostinato phrasings. They shift the tempo into a similar ostinato and Vandermark fires back with gravelly angst-ridden notes, driving the band through alternating thematic propositions and zooming in for the kill. From an avant-garde, or semi-free jazz perspective, Provoke, effectively goads the imagination and is one of the more enthralling programs of this ilk for 2013.