Jazz Institute of Chicago

School Days: Crossing Division

School Days: Crossing Division

Taking its name from a famous record by the Steve Lacy/Roswell Rudd Quartet from the early sixties, School Days is one of reedist Ken Vandermark's latest projects. "Crossing Division" is remarkable on several counts.

The session features originals penned by Vandermark and long-time collaborator Jeb Bishop (tb) as well as two compositions by Roswell Rudd, including the truculent and swinging "Keep Your Heart Right". However, a great sense of unity and cohesion transpires. Moreover, the material is quite memorable.

For this project, Vandermark could have easily picked a rhythm section he is familiar with. Instead, he decided to go with a Norwegian rhythm section—Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten (b) and Paal Nielssen-Love (d)—about whom he had heard a lot of praises. The results prove him right. The Norwegians feel at home with our two Chicagoans and display great musicianship.

Ken Vandermark is in excellent form throughout this session and so is Jeb Bishop (I also encourage you to check his own trio out). The themes played in unison are a delight. The two soloists complement each other very well, which creates a good balance. The reedist's abrasive and energetic playing is matched by Bishop's thoughtful interventions. The trombonist's tone is neither too cavernous nor too bright. He has simply become one the best sounding trombone in jazz today.

If you are intimidated by Ken Vandermark's already large output and do not know where to start, I strongly recommend this CD for School Days is one of his most accomplished projects to date.—Alain Drouot

Available on OkkaDisk at www.okkadisk.com

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