Ken Vandermark ‎– “Unexpected Alchemy” (Not Two Records, 2019)


A great collaboration between impressive jazz masters and improvisers is made in “Unexpected Alchemy”. It’s a great pleasure to listen to collective improvisations for various instrumental combos brought together by Ken Vandermark. The music was recorded by huge group of jazz masters – John Butcher (saxophones), Hamid Drake (drums), Kent Kessler (bass), Joe McPhee (tenor sax, trumpet), Ikue Mori (laptop, electronics), Steve Noble (drums), Eddie Prévost (drums), Mette Rasmussen (alto sax), John Tilbury (piano), Ken Vandermark (reeds) and Nate Wooley (trumpet).

“Unexpected Alchemy” is a mix of compositions for various instrumental combos – duos, trios, collective improvisations by all musicians, impressive solos, dynamic bright quartets and other instrumental compilations are made here. There are 7 different CD’s in this release. All music is based on free improvisation and avant-garde jazz. A rich variety of styles and streams is created – here innovative and evocative Scandinavian avant-garde jazz is combined together with roots of 1960’s avant-garde jazz, American and European streams, modern and contemporary jazz and its basical elements. The music is also effected by other styles – it has an influenze of various styles of contemporary academical music and electronics. Extended and home-made playing techniques combined together with traditional and modern ways of playing, special effects, synth tunes, sonoristic experiments, drone, glitch, sound machine’s experiments, computer sounds and other electronics. An authentic and artsy synthesis of acoustics and electronics makes an universal, bright and passionate musical pattern with exclusive instrumentation. Reeds player John Butcher, saxophonist Ken Vandermark, trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee and trumpeter Nate Wooley are creating the fundaments of the melody line. Full blasts of energy, struggles, explosing culminations, wild roaring riffs, passionate solos, blooming expressive melodies filled with driving series and transcendental ornaments – all these elements are the main compounds in the compositions by these improvisers. Drive, expression, blooming and exciting sound, fresh experiments, evocative ideas, innovative point of view and suggestive playing technique also accompagnie all the time the main melody line. Piano tunes by John Tilbury are filled with excitement, passions and tremendous culminations. Free improvisations created with drive and expressions are the mixes of different emotions, individual melodies, gorgeous ornaments, strange timbres and radical decisions. Pianist gently combines together expressive moving melodies, thrilling solos, breaking sessions, repetitive series, frantic sequences, radiant perturbations, tremendous riffs, silent pauses, relaxing contemplations and abstract samples. Piano is the source of energy and drive to the melody line and whole sound of the albums. It gently fits together in various instrumental compilations. A fantastic drum section is made by Eddie Prévost, Hamid Drake and Steve Noble. It’s compilated and combined in delight and subtle way – the musicians are experimentating on various cases of musical language. They’re searching to new timbres, exploring original and evocative ways of playing and creating an exciting, driving and exclusive sound. Eclectic, expressive, vital, light, luminous rhythms, driving sessions or steady monotonous beats along with aggressive bebop, angry hysteric solos, tremendous rolls and special effects – that’s only one part of the drums section. All kinds of elements are brought together to make an enchanting and original sound. The music of this album is a great occassion to hear out great jazz masters playing together in various compilations and combos. The music is driving, bright, filled with crazy turns, wild culminations, sensible subtle downs and impressive free improvisations.

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