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Thursday, September 13, 2018

VWCR (Ken Vandermark - Nate Wooley - Sylvie Courvoisier - Tom Rainey) - Noise Of Our Time (Intakt Records, 2018) ****

Ken Vandermark: Saxophone, Clarinet
Nate Wooley: Trumpet
Sylvie Courvoisier: Piano
Tom Rainey: Drums

The members of this supergroup hardly need an introduction here on FJB. Vandermark on sax and clarinet, Nate Wooley on trumpet, Sylvie Courvoisier on Piano and Tom Rainey on the drums.
Vandermark played with Wooley, Courvoisier and Rainey on the great Momentum 1: Stone release, in different settings and I’m happy to see them come together with their own album. We get 9 tunes 3-6 minutes long, which is kind of unusual for a Vandermark collaboration which often have extended performances with long improvised sections combined with composed ideas that are bent inwards, out, broken down and put back together.

Can enough be said in 5 minutes I wonder?

The first track, Counterpoint, has Vandermark blowing the introduction right of the bat – followed by Wooley and Courvoisier playing in sync and Rainey knitting the piece together. It kind of reminds me of Jonathan Finlayson & Sicilian Defense. Wooley’s elegant tone is perfectly accompanied by Vandermark’s which is more raw and edgy.

The second song, Track and Field, has a carpet of prepared piano laid out and Vandermark and Wooley traveling on each side and Rainey skipping in between. Until Courvoisier says it’s enough with a dark and fat block cord. Piano-Drum duo follows, and I’m thrown into a very rewarding improvised section. Vandermark joins in, and the chopped-up pieces are thrown up in the air.

On the track VWCR things gets really interesting, and it’s a highlight of the album. We get the grunts, the extended techniques, the pure power, great improvised sections and a build-up of energy that must come out eventually. It does and then rumbles into the abyss. On the last song, Simple Cut, we’re given an introspective conversation to end things off.

This is an album with great individual achievements from some of the best artists in the genre. One can’t deny the fact that we get to hear some of the most experienced artists on the scene playing together. Individual strengths and the personal voice is mixed with the extreme ability to listen to what the others are saying.

Noise of Our Time is to be released in September and I will pick up a copy immediately. I am, however, looking forward to hearing more from this group of musicians playing together – but knowing how busy they are in their respective projects I suspect it will be a while. But perhaps that’s also the way these musicians should be heard? As a hit and run before they disappear to push their individual projects and ultimately their own personal art, to the next level – wherever that might be. And yes, I believe enough could be said in 5 minutes. VWCR come in, they say what they have to say, and that’s it.

Perhaps, if you’re new to these musicians, this is a great point of entry. Listen to their individual voices and also how they collaborate. Then keep on listening, branching out to each of these great artists discographies.