Click here to [close]

Thursday, December 25, 2014

DKV Trio - Sound in Motion in Sound (NotTwo, 2014) *****

By Antonio Poscic

“You never know the value of what you have till you lose it.” In the case of DKV Trio, we’ve only recently become fully aware of the truthfulness of this statement. Indeed, we’ve missed them very much during their “hibernation” (early 2000s to 2008). Luckily, they are back in full force and they have been showering us with great releases for the last couple of years. There’s even better news: Hamid Drake’s (drums and percussion), Kent Kessler’s (bass), and Ken Vandermark’s (reeds) new mammoth release “Sound in Motion in Sound” (5 CDs, 5 hours of music!) is one of the peaks of their creative output.

This album actually consists of five recordings of extraordinary concerts performed in the past two years. The first two CDs feature two shows that follow closely in the steps of those which appeared on their “Past Present” box set released in 2012. These gigs demonstrate a well-known, familiar sounding DKV Trio in great form. Still, while these performances are a magnificent example of improvised music and free jazz, a feeling lingers that the musicians back then were searching for a proper common language and trying to renew a complete mutual understanding. It’s over the next three CDs, recorded during the end of last year and the first half of this year, that we really begin to understand the might and alchemy of the trio. They are tighter, more explosive, and ingenious than ever. Imagine every DKV Trio’s signature element coming together in a remarkably dazzling, fiery display of musical prowess. There’s an almost palpable quality to the way that the musicians meld their ideas and approaches together. There’s groove propelled by Drake’s funky, loose drumming, there’s melody in the bass lines, there’s dissonance and conflict in Vandermark’s fluid, mercurial playing.

The songs are mostly improvised, but since they often use a composed basis to get going, you’ll still find bits and pieces between various shows which sound similar and obviously emanate from the same ideas. Trying to understand these variations and changes in approach that the band embarks upon from evening to evening opens an entirely new dimension to the music. The mood of the players, the venue, the audience, all of these variables and subtleties fuel the entropy that forms a DKV Trio set. I must say, it’s quite an accomplishment that the band remains so fresh and creative after 20 years of activity.

It would take me a 50-page essay to correctly dissect and analyze the five hours of music on this album. The production values are high regardless of the venue and the musicians are equally inspired on each CD. It’s obvious that these performances have been carefully selected, although I suspect that you could pick any single concert of theirs on a tour and not be disappointed. This is a great recording by an unmistakable, intense group of musicians with a sound and feeling of their own. That much is clear now. I would even dare to call this album their best to date. Inspired, full of energy, harmonically, rhythmically, and even melodically rich, capable of wonderfully recreating the joy of listening to DKV Trio live.

The end of 2014 has brought us some wonderful music and DKV Trio’s “Sound in Motion in Sound” is no exception. In fact, it ranks amongst the best this year and the sheer grandeur of this release is commanding. Recommending this album is a no-brainer. Go and listen.

Available from Instantjazz.


Colin Green said...

Or from here:

Martin Schray said...

There is this rumor that Prince has about 50 albums in the coffers which he could release immediately. I have no idea what else Vandermark has in the pipeline but his output in the last few months has simply been awe-inspiring (we will see this in the following days).

Colin Green said...

Vandermark has a work ethic that puts the rest of us to shame. He also appears to have a good head for business, largely unknown in the world of free jazz!

Richard said...

The Free Jazz Blog does NOT take Christmas off.

I agree about his work ethic, but sometimes I think he could use an editor. I'd be more inclined to buy a "Best Of" from this tour rather than the whole tour.

Colin Green said...

i think there's some merit in the suggestion that Vandermark might be spreading himself a bit thin.

If you follow the above link, you can always download individual,sets, and add as you wish.

Richard said...

Thanks, Colin. I hadn't realized you could do that.

Dan said...

I've always had more of a passing admiration of Vandermark, but never delved very deeply into his work. This set is superb, though--just a great, well-rounded trio. A five-disc boxset sounds overwhelming, but a pretty high standard is maintained across all the discs.

I think there's something to be said about "over documenting", too. It makes me think of Anthony Braxton--by far one of my favorite musicians, don't get me wrong--but whose every breath and notation on a napkin is recorded and released, such that there's simply no way to stay abreast of his output. Eventually, you reach the point where you stop trying.

Antonio said...

To be honest, this specific release does not feel as if it "over documents" stuff nor does it feature "the whole tour". I'm pretty sure that the performances have been carefully selected, for one reason or another.

Case in point, I attended the concert that they did a day before the one in Cerkno (third CD) and I feel that that specific show wasn't up to scratch when compared to the ones presented here.

We'll see. If they continue releasing these ginormous box sets, I'll become sceptical too. So far, the quality has been high enough to warrant these kinds of records.

Stef said...

I like DKV and can't get anough of it. But most of the new releases are great for documentary reasons. They don't add much to the listener's experience.

Antonio said...

I get your point, Stef, and I agree in part.

Still, I feel this release is more concise and has an additional spark when compared to "Past Present". I don't regret giving it five stars, it's great music and could be their only release anyone remotely interested needs to buy.

The only issue is, as you've said, that these records never bring and probably never will bring a paradigm shift for the trio. I wonder if the musicians themselves will grow tired of it at some point again.