Tuesday, March 07, 2017

DEK Trio - Burning Below Zero (Trost, 2017)

This is a very exciting and free-wheeling improvised performance by a collective group consisting of Didi Kern on drums, Elisabeth Harnik on piano and Ken Vandermark on reed instruments. Recorded October 2, 2014 in concert at RAJ in Klagenfurt, Austria, the music is comprised of a three part collective improvisation, beginning with "RAJ 1" which opens with some initial probing, followed by everyone quickly slipping into gear and building a very compelling performance. The drums and piano are played in a fractured and unpredictable manner and Vandermark's saxophone is raw and powerful. These musicians have performed together in 2016 as part of Vandermark's residency at the Stone in New York City and in other configurations and use the camaraderie they have developed to excellent effect. Vandermark drops out briefly for a section or ripe piano and slashing percussion and then uses peals of pained sound to frame the other two instruments. The music is able to weave together quieter passages, with great bursts of sound, including sections for solos and duets in addition to the full trio. The rhythm of the music is full of surprises and dynamic shifts, dropping to silence near the halfway point. Vandermark moves to a lower toned instrument and develops a hypnotic motif that is elaborated upon by his partners, and is turned into an eerie, abstract fantasia. A thrilling section of high pitched piano and saxophone closes the first section of the performance in a memorable way. "RAJ 2" is open on all sides, the music is quiet but very active, it's energy percolating just below the surface. The music patiently gains volume around a repetitive piano chord, building potential energy all the way. The music has a nervous nature that is quite unique and everyone in the group has an interesting sound to add to the mix and the overall structure of the music. With powerful keyboard playing, rattling drums and potent saxophone and clarinet. There is a short coda entitled "RAJ 3" a taut and spirited improvisation that wraps the entire performance up nicely. Burning Below Zero - Trost Records.

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