Tag Archives: Side A

All About Jazz review by Mark Corroto

Side A – A New Margin (CF 235)
It is quite rare to hear multi-reedist Ken Vandermark record or perform with a pianist, the reason being that, back in the day (the early 1990s), his brand of new Chicago jazz was presented much like the hardcore punk scene of the previous decade—out of the back of a van. Like Henry Rollins and Black Flag, Vandermark’s life was one of constant travel, setting up and breaking down, only to move on to the next show.

Needless to say, his nomadic lifestyle was not conducive to trucking a piano around.

One of the few exceptions to the piano rule has been Norwegian Håvard Wiik—one-third of the chamber jazz trio Free Fall with Vandermark and bassist Inbebrigt Håker Flaten and a guest on Vandermark 5’s The Horse Jumps and The Ship Is Gone (Not Two, 2010).

Wiik’s role in Side A, like that in his band Atomic, is to relieve Vandermark of his organizational role—order being a natural habit for a chordal instrument. With the saxophonist and drummer Chad Taylor, Wiik also shares in the songwriting, making A New Margin an invigorating take on the jazz trio.

Freed of the responsibility for song structure, Vandermark can focus on being a soloist. His tenor (and the occasional clarinet) tone is liberated, and sounds quite liberating. With Taylor’s drums chasing Wiik’s hammering piano for the first three minutes of “What Is Is,” the saxophonist marches in response to the call. He sings the songs on this record, balanced and supported by Wiik and Taylor.

This trio also stabilizes this music without a bassist. The dynamic Taylor, best known for his work with the various Chicago Underground bands and the Exploding Star Orchestra, provides a constant energy here, maintaining a noisily free sound on “Fold” or supporting the abstractions of “Arborization” and “Permanent Sleeve (Walking Hand).” The session mixes the outward avant with some swinging bop-centered swing, even delving into {{Phillip Glass}|-like territory on Wiik’s “The Kreuzberg Variations,” building upon a repeating structure, only to be destroyed by entropy—sweet, free jazz entropy.
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=41322

Jazz Magazine review by Paul Jaillet

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

Side A – A New Margin (CF 235)
No es la primera vez que el saxofonista y clarinetista Ken Vandermark colabora con el pianista de Atomic Havard Wiik. Ambos, junto al baterista Chad Taylor, han puesto en marcha la formación Side A, que se estrena con A New Margin. Los tres músicos se reparten casi a partes iguales la composición de los diez temas. Esto influye en la variedad de una propuesta que entronca con el free-bop, pero que también se permite otros momentos de una mayor abstracción. No es habitual encontrar a pianistas en las formaciones de Vandermark, aunque Wiik demuestra nuevamente que es un magnífico compañero para el de Boston. Chad Taylor, imprescindible en la escena de Chicago, muestra aquí sus poderosas razones musicales. El resultado quizás no sea la obra cumbre de una discografía tan abundante como la de Ken Vandermark, aunque estamos una vez más ante un muy buen disco.
http://bun.tomajazz.com/2011/12/side-a-new-margin-clean-feed-2011.html

Downbeat review by Bill Meyer

Side A – A New Margin Clean Feed (CF 235)
4 Stars
Last time I checked his website, Ken Vandermark had 18 different configurations going. Why so many? One obvious reason is that he thrives on variety, and the peripatetic Chicagoan accomplishes very different things playing solo, in the brutally amplified quartet Lean Left, and with his multi-national big band, the Resonance Ensemble. But another is that he is quite conscious of the way exchanging one player for another can so change a group that it’s not the same anymore. He’s played for a decade with Norwegian pianist Håvard Wiik in the trio Free Fall, which also includes bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten. Side A swaps Håker Flaten for drummer Chad Taylor, a New Yorker with Chicago roots, and with that change comes an entirely different sensibility. Free Fall is a chamber group, indebted to the exacting explorations of timbre and nuance laid out on Jimmy Giuffre’s album of the same name; Side A is a composer’s collective that gravitates to strong melodies and stronger rhythms. New man, new concept, new content — it’s a new band.

With three composers each pursuing diverse concerns, Side A’s debut CD never stays in one place for long, or evenfor a song. Vandermark’s “Boxer” bridges the gap between Bach and Monk, with Taylor’s drumming issuing a TonyWilliams-like undercurrent of dissent throughout. Wiik’s “The Kreuzberg Variations” exemplifies the eclecticism of the Berlin neighborhood after which it is named by shifting from lighter-than-air improv to Philip Glass-like repetition to a full-bore blowout in just seven minutes. Taylor’s “Trued Right” punctuates a stately, McCoy Tyner-esque theme with a Latin piano flourish underpinned by a lockstep beat. But even the most abrupt shifts never feel awkward. In an age when anyone with a computer can hear anything, it would belazy not to deal with all that information out there. The trio makes its contrasting elements cohere into pieces as complex and challenging as 21st century life; this is what jazz sounds like right now.

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

Side A – A New Margin (CF 235)
****
O trio Side A é mais um projecto de Ken Vandermark (há muito que lhes perdi a conta), revelado em 2010 no festival de Molde e numa tournée lusa e que se estreia agora com CD gravado em Portalegre.

As 10 faixas têm autoria repartida entre Vandermark, o pianista Havard Wiik e o baterista Chad Taylor e “What Is Is” é o seu zénite: começa com agitação entrecortada de piano e bateria, até que o sax barítono assume funções de contrabaixo e gera um ímpeto rítmico imparável – o piano acaba por substitui-lo, libertando Vandermark para se lançar num solo incendiário. Apesar da toada geral enérgica, o lirismo assoma quando Vandermark toma o clarinete, como em “Trued Right” e “Arborization” – este a evocar a atmosfera do Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps de Messiaen.

Mas Jazz. Otoño 2011 review by Pachi Tapiz

JazzWrap review by Stephan Moore

Side A – A New Margin (CF 235)
A Ken Vandermark record is always a welcomed addition in the JazzWrap office. And Vandermark’s newest project, Side A is a massive inclusion to the catalog.

The trio formed last year but somehow it feels like they’ve played together for much longer; Vandermark and Wiik have been together in various projects (Vandermark 5, Atomic/School Days, and Free Fall). A New Margin (Clean Feed), the trio’s debut, is a document of their collaborative efforts over the last year.

Side A kicks the proceedings off with the slow moving and haunting “Boxer.” It’s like a mystery ride that never seems to end and you’re constantly turned on to some new element in the piece. Whether it’s the plodding downward keys of Wiik, the sky-rocketing velocity of Vandermark on sax, or Taylor’s free-wheeling movement on the kit–this is a journey that’s going to take many different shapes before its done.

“Arborizaltion” flows peacefully with each member improvising in between the space. It’s not wild movements; more a steady pattern of ideas that all fold together in one harmonic gesture.

When “The Kreuzberg Variations” first came on I was startled by the spacial depth of the piece. It’s a classical movement as the title would suggest but with more owed to the Steve Reich motif than Brandenberg. The piece builds and builds until its boisterous conclusion where musician and sound collide in what is quite a beautiful noise.

“Giacometti” is a blustery but euphoric number that sees the trio bouncing sound off each other. Taylor adds a delicate touch in the beginning, while Vandermark and Wiik create some vivid colour spectrums. This comes to a rousing denouement that nicely bookends the possession filled opening of the “Boxer.”

Side A is yet another in long list of progressive outings from Ken Vandermark and company that challenges the way we think of jazz and how it will expand. A New Margin is by far one Vandermark’s best projects (outside of Vandermark 5) of the last 12 months. Great stuff.
http://jazzwrap.blogspot.com/

Free Jazz review by Stef Gissels

Side A – A New Margin (CF 235)
****
In one of Ken Vandermark’s many projects, he plays in “Free Fall”, a trio format with Norwegian pianist Havard Wiik and Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten, as a tribute band to the music of Jimmy Giuffre.

Now we find him again in the company of Wiik, but accompanied by Chicagoan Chad Taylor on drums. Like with Free Fall, this trio is also strongly rooted in jazz tradition, with fixed (?) rhythms, elaborated compositions and harmonic development. The musical skills demonstrated by all three musicians are staggering, both on their instruments as in the phenomenal interplay, yet as so often with great albums, the quality of the music itself is what really counts and it also receives their full attention.

Wiik is a stylist, someone with a gentle touch, and strong sense of lyricism, and his combination with Vandermark’s incredible skills of shifting from patterns to breaking them and back again in one seamless motion work well with Taylor’s rhythmic complexities. Actually, all three excell in the key ingredients : lyricism, powerplay and tradition-pushing.

The tunes range from sweet, as in “Trued Right”, or abstract bluesy, as on “Arborization”, to clever rhythm-shifting in the phantastic and genre-crossing “The Kreuzberg Variations” to powerplay on “Comeling”. There is madness to be heard, yet controlled or contained, and joined with some more universal feelings as melancholy and tenderness. The variation is great, as are the compositions, almost equally divided among the members of the trio.

The line-up is unusual too (check on the “Sax Piano Drums Trio” in the right column to get to know more of them), yet one that works extremely well because it offers harmonic, rhythmic and a wealth of solo opportunities, while keeping the improvisational freedom of a small ensemble.

In any case, great stuff, and not to be missed.
http://freejazz-stef.blogspot.com/

Jazzreview review by Glenn Astarita

Side A – A New Margin (CF 235)
Rating: Four Stars
Woodwind specialist Ken Vandermark is a prominent voice in modern jazz and improvisation, emanating from the Chicago scene, and currently a major force in the global community. Here, the artist aligns with fellow Chicagoan, drummer Chad Taylor and Scandinavian pianist Havard Wilk for a bass-less trio session, spawning tightly melodic structures within the progressive-jazz schema and the contrasting improvisational domain. Essentially, the trio seeds a distinct sense of well-being into the project to complement a few movements that project angst or turbulence. It’s an engagement centered on equality, as Vandermark and Wilk alternate solos and unite for numerous theme-building episodes.

“Trued Right,” is as a piece that offers a prime example of the band’s cunning ability to translucently merge the outside component into a quaintly endearing primary theme. Therefore, the musicians use a wide lane to fuse free-expressionism with airy soundscapes, where Vandermark’s clarinet work suggests flotation-like qualities embedded within a relatively simplistic but memorable ostinato melody rendered by Wilk. But the calming effects give way to a passage highlighted by Vandermark’s soaring, rough-hewn choruses, followed by Taylor’s polyrhythmic onslaught towards the closeout. Here, tenderness and brute strength formulate a synchronous balance of disparate mood-eliciting panoramas. Hence, the trio sets the gears in motion with a novel game-plan, as group-focused interactions translate into a level playing field that sustains a spiritual power of sorts, evident from start to finish.
http://www.jazzreview.com/reviews/latest-cd-track-reviews/item/28678-a-new-margin-by-side-a.html

Music and More review by Tim Niland

Side A – A New Margin (CF 235)
One needs a continuous RSS feel all its own to keep up with the number of projects saxophonist, clarinetist and composer Ken Vandermark is involved in these days. This is a comparatively new project, a collaborative one featuring Vandermark with Havard Wiik on piano and Chad Taylor on drums. It is interesting to hear Vandermark playing in a group with a pianist, and a bassless one no less. But it works really well, and the music is consistently fresh and interesting, drawing its inspiration from the “free-bop” of the late 1960’s and adding thoroughly modern touches and flourishes. They come out of the gate hard with the pugilistic “Boxer” and “What Is Is.” Vandermark cycles through a variety of horns throughout the album, creating a variety which is attuned to the nature of the music whether the uptempo tunes mentioned above or the slower and more abstract “Arborization” or “Permanent Sleeve (Walking Hand).” On these performances, the trio slows the pace, and allows the music to develop in an abstract, organic manner. The finish strong with the pulsing “Giacometti” bringing them full circle to the hot blooded fast and nimble jazz they began with. Vandermark is his usual excellent self through the album, giving his all whatever the instrument or the setting. Wiik, a member of the excellent Scandinavian jazz band Atomic, and Chad Taylor who is ubiquitous on the Chicago jazz scene are with him step for step, turning what could have been a soloist with accompaniment record into a true trio conversation. This was a consistently enjoyable and interesting album. The group plays with considerable passion and brings an air of freshness and joy to the proceedings.
http://jazzandblues.blogspot.com/