Ken Vandermark’s Powerhouse Sound @ Newport!

Yeah man! NPR.org is letting those of us who couldn’t be at the Newport Jazz Festival this year eavesdrop on entire sets from the festival. Most righteous indeed. There’s so much to choose from. But I’d like to bring to EMP’s readers’ attention the always excellent stylings of Chicago’s very own Ken Vandermark. The guy is extremely prolific and a veritable polyglot in all things reed, so that everything he spins out sounds fresh. And yet he has a certain unique force to his playing that’s unmistakable. He’s powerful, à la Peter Brötzmann powerplaying, and he always surrounds himself with excellent musicians.

Ken Vandermark

Peter Brötzmann

Sidebar: Check out the Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet — live or on vinyl they’ll amaze. It’s a truly all-star lineup featuring, alongside Herr Brötzmann, Ken Vandermark, Joe McPhee, Mats Gustafsson, Paal Nilssen-Love, Ken Kessler, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Jeb Bishop, Michael Zerang, Per-Ake Holmlander, and Jahannes Bauer. The music these cats create is intoxicating. Live, they are unexcelled.  But I digress.

Yesterday at the Newport Jazz Festival, Ken Vandermark’s Powerhouse Sound ripped the roof off their tent (?) and NPR has the show posted for everyone to enjoy, here. This roughly fifty-five minute set demonstrates the artistry and downright innovation of Vandermark and the other exceptional musicians in Powerhouse Sound. This show is heavy indeed. Lots of scorching guitar thanks to Jeff Parker (of Tortoise acclaim and sundry jazz and blues outfits). But man, they swing, too. And of course, they also confuse! Chicago jazz scenesters will know well all four of Powerhouse Sound’s established crew.

Powerhouse Sound’s lineup:

Ken Vandermark, tenor saxophone

Jeff Parker, guitar

Nate McBride, electric bass

John Herndon, drums.

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