Q: What are we going to listen in your visit to Europe
with the LKV Trio?
KV: This will be the first time LKV plays in Europe. A
few years ago, Paul Lytton, Kent Kessler and myself did some concerts
around Chicago. Since then we've worked together in the Territory Band
and with smaller groups comprised from that lineup. So this will be the
first extended tour as a trio and we're looking forward to it. All the
music will be completely improvised from concert to concert so it's hard
to say what it will happen exactly -part of what I'm looking for is a
sense of discovery in each performance -but I'm guessing it we'll be
dealing with an aesthetic that integrates issues of "European free
improvisation" with an "American sense of time."
Q: What's jazz to you? And free-jazz?
KV: Well, this is a question that could take a book to
answer. In general, I see the jazz continuum as a tradition of narrative
improvisers whose work has been directly affected by the innovations and
creativity of black American musicians from the 20th century. So, to me,
Evan Parker is a jazz musician: his improvisations lead a listener from
point "a" to point "b" and his methods are
influenced by some of the extended technique work of John Coltrane and
Pharoah Sanders, among others. I hear a distinct difference in the
improvisation you can find in "the new composed music" that's
directed by chance procedures or free choice, etc. Because the issue of
"narrative approach" isn't an essential aspect to that kind of
improvisation. Obviously, there are a lot of people who would disagree
with me on this!
Q: Are you going to do some other concerts with other
groups? And record some new album?
KV: The only concerts I'll be involved with on this
trip to Europe will be with LKV. So far there are no plans to record,
but if the music works as well as we hope we'll definitely make plans to
document our work together.
Q: You have some new projects: FME, the
Lovens/Lytton/Vandermark Trio and also there's some information about
Tripleplay as an active project. What can you tell us about each one of
them? Are you planning to release some record?
KV: I feel that I'm in the start of a transitional
period. For the last half decade or so I've focused primarily on the
Vandermark 5, AALY and the DKV Trio with a number of other ongoing
projects filling out my interests in music (work with the Peter
Brötzmann Tentet, Spaceways Inc. and School Days, for example). Last
year began what I see as a shift to a more personal set of ideas about
what I want to do, particularly with the realization of the Territory
Band 3 and the FME (Free Music Ensemble).
The work with the Vandermark 5 has been geared towards
investigating what I think a contemporary "jazz" band might
sound like and different stylistic concerns that interest me (jazz,
funk, new music, free improvisation, etc.). Having a regularly working
group (we've played once a week in Chicago [when I'm here] for more than
six years, plus tours in the States and in Europe) as a creative
compositional outlet has been essential to my development. Right now
it's possible that Jeb Bishop may move from Chicago. If this happens the
Vandermark 5 will become a touring group so that it continue to work
together, but it will no longer be possible to be a "workshop"
for my ideas. I will need to come up with another ensemble to do that.
With the FME and the Territory Band I have moved away
from the investigation of "styles" and I have tried to work on
music that is dictated by my own internal interests. Hopefully the music
of the Vandermark 5 (and other groups up to now) has been personal as
well, but I feel that it's time to stop full time study and deal with my
Regarding the LLV project (Paul Lovens, Paul Lytton and
myself) and Tripleplay I am hoping to do more work with both in the near
future. The tour in the U.S. with LLV was incredible and the three of us
seem very committed to trying to bring the group to Europe, I'm hoping
that this will happen sometime early in 2004. Regarding Tripleplay, I
just performed in December with Curt Newton and Nate McBride (with
Pandelis Karayorgis playing Rhodes piano). This was the first time that
I had played with Curt in more than a year and a half! The music was
burning though, and we all agreed it was time to return to the trio and
see what there is to say now. Tentatively we're thinking of getting
together this summer and working on new material.
Q: You’re saying you're going to change your interest
to a more personal set of ideas: are you going to keep on recording and
working with new compositions/ideas with AALY, KV5, DKV Trio, Spaceways
Inc, School Days, the Brötzmann Tentet,... or they're going to be only
KV: I will definitely be working with all of these
groups in an ongoing way, I just hope that my own writing and playing
will move towards a more specifically personal way of working; less
modeled on the work of past masters.
Q: Is the name FME a tribute to the FMP label?
KV: The name for FME is a kind of homage to both the
SME (Spontaneous Music Ensemble) and the FMP (Free Music Productions)
label. Both the SME and FME are associated with the European
"free" music and the idea of FME is to play music that is as
free as possible from stylistic constraints: we work with music that is
"abstract" (open pulse, dealing with timbre as opposed to
pitch) and melodically/groove based. The band's first album has just
been released on Okka Disk as a limited edition. Taken from a live
concert in Stockholm it is a good example of how the band works and
Q: There's some information about some new records of
KV5, with Paul Lytton and the Territory Band 3. Can you tell us about
them? Are they recorded?
KV: The new Vandermark 5 album, "Airports for
Light", is being released by Atavistic in march. The first 1500
copies will include a bonus disk called "Six for Rollins"
(arrangements I made for a series of Rollins’ compositions: "John
S.", "The Bridge", "East Broadway Run Down",
"Freedom Suite pt. 2", "Strode Rode", and three
pieces from the album, "Alfie" ["He's Younger than You
Are", "Little Malcolm Loves His Dad", and "Street
Runner with Child"], put together as a suite). We're in the process
of recording the Rollins' material now, live in concert, the music was
recorded in August of 2002 and it is the first material released with
the "new" (he joined the group in December of last year)
drummer, Tim Daisy.
During the tour with LLV a number of the concerts were
recorded. I'm planning on reviewing them over the next month to see if
one of the cdrs captures the energy and creativity of the group. If so,
I hope that Mr. Lovens and Mr. Lytton will agree to have it released as
a document of the kind of work we do together.
The third incarnation of the Territory Band (same line
up as number 2, but with Paal Nilssen-Love on drums and Paul Lytton
instead of Tim Mulvenna) convened in Chicago in September of last year
(2002) and the results were incredible. The collection of players really
felt like a band this time, it felt much easier to get to the heart of
the material than it had before and everything seemed to fall into place
naturally. We performed at the Chicago Cultural Center following a week
of rehearsals and went into the studio for two days after that, all of
those performances were fantastic -I can't speak highly enough about the
creativity of the members of that group. All of them, Jim Baker, Jeb
Bishop, Axel Doerner, Kevin Drumm, Per-Ake Holmlander, Kent Kessler,
Fredrik Ljungkvist, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Paul Lytton, Paal Nilssen-Love
and Dave Rempis are exceptional musicians and improvisers, and we work
together beautifully. We were fortunate enough to do a short trip with
the band in Europe this past fall, playing at the Berlin Jazz Festival
and in Västerĺs, Sweden, and Oslo, Norway. I hope to have the third
Territory Band document out sometime next year and hope to have more
opportunities to work with the group in a live context.(1)
Q: Since you are very interested in manage your own
music producing yourself, is in your mind the idea of creating your own
record company? Or are you satisfied with your relation with the
multiple companies you've record and especially with Okka Disk and
KV: My working relationship with Okka and Atavistic is
pretty ideal, they give me complete artistic control over the albums I
make and they pay for most of the costs and do the work of manufacturing
and distributing the recordings. I'm too busy to take on the full time
job of running a label, I would rather put whatever energy I have into
making new music and performing.
Q: Do you keep the rights of all the records that
you've done? I'm thinking about the fantastic "Double Barrage
Trio" and about the actual state of Quinnah Records, the label
where this records and others were released. Is there some interest
about re-releasing those Quinnah Records again in some way as you did
with "A Meeting in Chicago"?
KV: In general I have the rights of the recordings. If
I could find Jeff Dreves, who ran Quinnah, I am sure that I'd be able to
re-release "Barrage". Right now I am more concerned with the
contemporary work and getting that documented correctly. Unfortunately,
this means some recordings are going to be "lost," the
"Barrage" cd is an example of this: it's out of print and will
probably remain so for the time being.
THE KV5 / KV6
Q: You've changed one classic drummer in Vandermark's
projects, Tim Mulvenna by Tim Daisy. What brings him to this group? In
what direction are you working now with this ensemble? I think that
there's a fantastic sonic evolution since your first recordings with
this group, I also like the way you bring the spirit of the people you
are paying tribute in each song to the spirit and sound of the KV5...
KV: Tim Mulvenna decided to quit the group last summer
and after completing a tour in Europe in the fall he left the band (2).
Luckily, Tim Daisy, a drummer who everyone in the Vandermark 5 had
played with before in other contexts and who has worked extensively with
Dave Rempis in their group, Triage, was interested in joining the
ensemble. Like all the other members of the Vandermark 5, Tim brings in
his own ideas and personality to realizing the material I bring in to
work with. He's got incredible drive and he's very open minded, willing
to try out different rhythmic ideas I've got for the compositions. As I
said above, I'm not sure what the next step with the Vandermark 5 will
be after this album. It depends a lot on what Jeb Bishop decides to do
about leaving Chicago and in what capacity the band will continue to
Q: I miss Jeb Bishop's guitar, it is decision from its
KV: A while back Jeb decided to stop playing the guitar
and so that element was eliminated from the band's sound.
Q: You've also add the trombonist Wolter Wierbos to KV5
in some moments. Are you planning to increase this ensemble or it is
open to specific collaborations?
KV: In general the V5 has played as a self contained
unit, only occasionally have other musicians sat in with the band. The
occasion with Wolter Wierbos was luckily recorded.
Q: In V5 there's a kind of evolution in the rhythms
you're working with: cool, free, west-coast and many other jazz styles
and also blues, rock... What are those new rhythmic ideas you are
KV: In the past I’ve written pieces for different
groups where the source remained intact in the composition (i.e. the
"funk" material for the Vandermark 5), what I am hoping to do
is to incorporate a more flexible application of the ideas so the source
isn't so stylistically evident.
Q: Are you going to release some kind of entire
KV: The only time that "HBF" been played as a
piece is in concert, I was using its themes as a connective on the
"Acoustic Machine" album.
Q: You've played in Zu’s record "Igneo",
this no-wave, free-jazz or post-rock group. Steve Albini, who produces
this record is also from Chicago. Do you have in mind some producer like
him (not strictly from jazz or a musician) for your records? Or do you
prefer to produce yourself and release what you have in mind? Can we
consider a producer as part of the group he's producing?
KV: Generally speaking I'm not interested in working
with producers for my own music. I have a pretty clear idea of what I'm
striving for in the ensembles that I lead, and since I'm making musical
considerations for them all the time I doubt that someone outside of my
experience is going to have a better perspective on what needs to be
accomplished than I do. This is based primarily on how I view working in
the studio for the kind of music I play. Whether I'm in the studio or in
a live context I see the recording of improvised music as a document of
one event, not the ultimate expression of a process oriented art form.
Every time I play I try to be as creative and spontaneous as possible,
whether in the studio or live, whether using written materials or
improvising completely, so the recording to me, documents one example of
how this material can be realized or how this group of individuals
improvise together. It's not clear to me how a producer could work with
this kind of approach unless in an artificial or contrived manner,
altering the music through an outside concept that's not present in the
general method the ensemble(s) use to work together.
Q: Who are the next "creators" to whom you
are going to pay tribute with a song?
KV: It's hard to say, there are people all around me
now and throughout history who keep me going and keep me inspired. I
believe there is no single person who accomplishes anything, things
always happen in the context of collaboration.
Q: In a jazz forum there's been some discussion about
illegal recordings ("bootlegs" and this kind of stuff that
fans like so much). What do you think about it? Do you think that it
damages you if I make a copy of one of your records and give it to a
friend. I can tell you that the first time I listened to your music was
when a good friend make me a copy of "Target or Flag"...
KV: My attitude towards "bootleg" recordings
is pretty different from many of the other musicians I work with. First,
I always ask people who want to record one of my concerts to make sure
that it's fine with all of the musicians involved. Second, I require
them to give me a copy in the same format that they record it (i.e. if
they make a digital recording I request that they send me a DAT or a
cdr, not a cassette). This way I have a document of the same quality as
what may circulate. If people don't ask me for permission to record
before attempting to, I will tell them that this is wrong and request
that they don't tape. Also, if anyone in the group performing doesn't
want the concert recorded I will tell the person trying to tape the
music not to. Otherwise I don't see the live documents that are
"unofficial" as a threat, they are another way to get
information about the music out to listeners. Most of the people that
are interested in these live recordings trade them, they don't sell them
(selling them is highly unethical, someone who tapes should not be
profiting more from that recording than the people who created the
music), and support the music through buying the "official"
Q: What do you know about jazz in Southern Europe:
France, Spain, Portugal, Italy...?
KV: Unfortunately my awareness of the music from that
part of the world is too limited. I know some of the Italian musicians
from the Italian Instabile Orchestra, and I am aware of people like
Louis Sclavis and Raymond Boni, but I am sure there are many, many great
musicians living in that region that I don't know enough about.
Q: What are the records (apart from Rollins -I
suppose-) that are you listening those days?
KV: Right now I'm going through my entire record
collection and pulling albums that I am not 100% satisfied with- I’m
running out of space! Right now I've gone up to "m", so
recently I've listened to a lot of Steve Lacy, Barry Guy's London Jazz
Composers Orchestra, Anthony Braxton, Bill Dixon, Johnny Griffin, and
J.J. Johnson (among others)... I'm always curious, so generally I listen
to several different kinds of music each day: jazz, soul, traditional
world music, reggae, blues, new "classical," etc.
Q: Can you tell us which are some of the best records
you've listen in 2002 (it doesn't mind if they are new records or
KV: Unfortunately, I'm bad at remembering when I heard
things, just that I did. I've been checking out more Gerry Mulligan in
the last year, more reggae (particularly Lee "Scratch" Perry
and the Studio One series on Soul Jazz), plus I've been able to find a
number of old Don Cherry albums that got reissued on cd ("Blue
Lake" and "Orient"). During the last stretch I've also
been examining the music of Morton Feldman more thoroughly, especially
the series of albums that have been released on hat [now] art. In a way,
some of the most serious listening I do is in concert, either with
people I work with or as a listener in an audience. So without question
I'd have to say that the work of Peter Brötzmann, Paul Lytton, Paul
Lovens, Paal Nilssen-Love, Mats Gustafsson, Joe McPhee, Kent Kessler,
Ingebrigt Hĺker Flaten, Hĺvard Wiik, Jeb Bishop, Tim Daisy, Dave
Rempis, Kevin Drumm, Fredrik Ljungkvist, Axel Doerner, Per-Ake
Holmlander, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Hamid Drake, Jim Baker, and Nate McBride
(among others and in no particular order) has made a huge impact in my
ideas over the last year. Live is where all the ideas get put to the
test, this is where I learn the most.
Good look with your visit to Europe with LKV Trio and i
look forward to meeting you in Huesca!
(1) KV: The band played and recorded new material in
Chicago in September of 2002, but I’m not sure if that music will be
released in 2003 or 2004. Hopefully sooner than later!
(2) KV: The final work Tim Mulvenna did with me was in November 2001 in
Guimarăes, Portugal, with the Territory Band 2.