Ken Vandermark/Klaus Kugel/Mark Tokar – “Escalator” (NotTwo Records, 2017)

“Escalator” is the newest album played by three great avant-garde jazz masters Ken Vandermark, Klaus Kugel and Mark Tokar. The album was released this week by “NotTwo Records”. The musicians of the trio are very well-known for all who are interested in free jazz – it’s Ken Vandermark (tenor sax, clarinet), Klaus Kugel (drums, percussion) and Mark Tokar (double bass). These musicians are famous for original and unique playing style, innovative and expressive improvising, effective and interesting sound of their compositions. During the years of creative activity they had recorded numerous albums with various ensembles and avant-garde jazz legends such as Peter Brotzmann, Paal Nilssen-Love, Joe Morris, Ab Baas, Joe McPhee, Lasse Marhaug and many others. Their improvisations are based on avant-garde jazz and modern jazz styles synthesis. The most part of the albums are full of live, free and dynamic sound compositions. The compositions of “Escalator” were recorded at “Alchemia Club” in Krokow in 2016.

The album has 5 compositions which is based on avant-garde jazz elements. Free, live and expressive collective improvisations also have modern jazz elements – monotonic and fast rhythmic, sharp harmony and very fast and virtuosic solos. The elements of bebop, post-bop and avant-garde jazz synthesis together in one composition. Improvisations are full of different musical expressions and sound experiments. The musicians try out new and innovative playing techniques, their melodies are very fast, emotional, virtuosic and expressive. Masterful solos, full of very fast virtuosic pasages, blow outs and other elements are the main element of the compositions. The variety of strange and peculiar timbres and sounds is also very important part of improvisations because it makes the sound of compositions even more interesting and effective. The improvisations of this album are very dynamic and contrastic with each other – episodes based on different modern and avant-garde jazz styles are combined together. The sound is very dynamic and constantly changing – fast, active, rigorous and sharp collective improvisations suddenly turns out to calm and slow episodes there double bass is heard very much. Subtle and dynamic double bass melodies, various sounds of percussion and slow saxophone melodies are the main elements of these episodes. So this music is full of surprises and stylistic waves – live, active, innovative and expressive improvisations of great avant-garde jazz masters create interesting and modern sound of these compositions.

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