Ken Vandermark’s Joe Harriot Project

Ken Vandermark’s Joe Harriot Project

Straight Lines


I am of the opinion that Ken Vandermark is one of the finest musicians recording in the city of Chicago. His constant activity, and endless networking is one of the reasons that Chicago is rising (has risen?) to the prominence of downtown New York in terms of creative music. Not since the days of the AACM has Chicago been so productive.

The ensemble of this project is essentially the Vandermark 5 minus one. Not here is reedist Dave Rempis. The remaining four (Ken Vandermark, Tim Mulvenna, Kent Kessler, and Jeb Bishop) bring the tunes of the often overlooked Joe Harriot alive, and bursting with energy and passion. I haven’t heard the original tunes, so I cannot comment on the relations between them and these, but since I’ve seen the caliber of these tunes, I’ve been motivated to pick up the originals.

The songs here vary from unified and melodic, to very abstract and free. “Tonal” features some fine trombone playing by Jeb Bishop. His playing throughout the album is wonderful; his solos have that laid back energy that I love. Vandermark’s playing is inspiring as usual and the rhythm section drives the tunes all over the map. Of particular interest is the free-flowing “Shadows,” which starts out with some ghostly bowed cymbals and underlies the most abstract track on the album.

This is an excellent addition to Vandermark’s already exemplary oeuvre, and shows the talents of the oft-neglected Joe Harriot.

Atavistic, P.O. Box 578266, Chicago, IL 60657;

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