Who would imagine that the young cat playing in the NRG Ensemble would be the monster he is in today’s avant jazz?
Involved in many projects of his own iniciative, like The Vandermark 5, the DKV Trio, Witches and Devils, Territory Band, AALY Trio, School Days, Tripleplay and Spaceways Inc, he represents the present incarnation of the best tenor saxophone tradition that goes from Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins to Joe McPhee and Fred Anderson.
His association with Europeans Mats Gustafsson and Peter Brotzmann (in the Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet, for instance) enhanced even more his status as one of the leading reedmen in the world scene. Elements from funk (he’s a huge Funkadelic’s and Booker T. and the MG’s fan, by the way), rock, “classical” contemporary, traditional music, hard bop and free jazz are incorporated in his extensive playing vocabulary, and maybe that’s the reason why he has such a large audience.
To Vandermark, diversity is a key procedure, even if some of the mainstream critics have a problem with that. Considering that the practice of improvisation has many possibilities, for him being selective is not an option. He even thinks that this concept isn’t strange to the identity of jazz as a trans-cultural music. The band leader finds the same urge to incorporate other types of materials in Duke Ellington’s compositions. So, nothing new in that aspect, if you don’t have any preconceptions about what jazz “should” be.
For this Chicago performer that won the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, jazz is something in a constant process of (re)invention.