Although i enjoy jazz in general, it is a large
genre with an extensive history that i have not explored completely.
(Is such an exploration even possible anymore?) At any rate,
i was curious to see The Vandermark 5 play, and The EARL did
promise that this would be an early show (even thought they've
lied to me about that before), so i took the chance and headed
down to East Atlanta under the threat of Spring Monsoons.
Apparently someone involved with this show cared deeply about
it, because they gave out tickets. No really. See:
I have never seen anything like this at The EARL. Very odd.
Anyway, i walked into the club at 9:13 (checking my watch)
and the band were, at that very same moment, climbing onto the
stage amid sparse applause. There were less than a hundred people
there, making the club a little under half full. All of the
seating was pushed forward so that it was right in front of
the stage, leaving us late-comers standing in the back. This
is, when you think about it, a far more logical set-up than
the normal one, in which sitters are stuck in the back of the
club unable to see the stage.
Ken Vandermark said hi and talked breifly about the band's
new album, which spurred the tour, then they tore into it. Literally
-- the first 2 songs were great club jazz. The drummer and the
bassist (upright bass, naturally) layed down a solid rhythm
and the horns (trombone and sax accompaning multi-instrumentalist
Ken Vandermark) soared over top.
Standing there was like being in one of those old Miles Davis
or Thelonius Monk bootlegs i have. The rhythm section plods
along, and each of the others takes a solo, after which the
whole band joins in for a while to really swing, and the crowd
claps and cheers after each solo. It was jazz as St. Jack Kerouac
described it. Woo hoo!
Vandermark repeatedly thanked the crowd for it's enthusiasm.
And i overheard one guy in the bathroom saying that he thought
this show was better than some, because the crowd was less snooty
and more open. So i guess this wasn't your standard jazz crowd,
but it did seem to be an appreciative one.
They played two sets, the first lasting about 45 minutes. Then
there was a short intermission wherein Vandermark stood at the
merch table and chatted with fans. Then the band came back and
I have seen very little live jazz before, but i thought that
this show was amazing. The band was tight, and all of the musicians
played very well. They played everything from minimalist free
jazz to floor-stomping swing, and did it all well.
The whole show was wonderful. So, my advice to you is go see
The Vandermark 5 on tour if you ge the chance. I don't care
if you know jazz or not -- go see them. It will, at least, be
a break from the stream of indie rock/electronica/metal/whatever
you do. And, i think, it is well done to boot.