SOUND IN ACTION TRIO Gate
Atavistic ALP160CD (2006)
If multireedist/composer Ken Vandermark seems like he's in some sort of competition to release the most albums per year by an avant-jazz musician (look out, Anthony Braxton!), it's just because he's the kind of guy who likes to stay busy (both for pleasure and out of necessity, as the new documentary film Musician shows). Gate finds him in one of his many band lineups, the Sound in Action trio, which is made up of Vandermark and drummers Robert Barry and Tim Daisy.
The lack of a bass, piano, or some sort of chordal accompaniment gives the trio a unique sound not unlike that of the duo of John Coltrane and Rashied Ali on their classic album of duets Interstellar Space. Vandermark's brawny tenor and slinky bass clarinet fill in any gaps left by the absence of another non-percussive instrument, and Barry and Daisy play as one powerful entity beneath and beside him.
Even on the freest, most abstract cuts (such as "Slate" and a cover of Albert Ayler's "Love Cry"), the beat never seems to waver, allowing Vandermark to indulge himself in punchy, spiraling solos throughout (as on a faithful cover of Coltrane's "One Down, One Up"). Gate shows that even the freest jazz can still have a strong rhythmic foundation (especially with a great drummer or two on board).