Creative saxophonist Ken Vandermark invades New Orleans

The McArthur Foundation grant winner will be in the city today and tomorrow (9/8-9/9) for a variety of events including a solo improvised performance, two collaborations with local musicians, and speaking appearances.

Often described as an avant-garde musician, Vandermark’s primary creative emphasis has been the exploration of contemporary music that deals directly with advanced methods of improvisation. He was awarded the McArthur “genius” award in 1999.

His first appearance will be Monday evening at 8 PM in the acoustically pristine environs of Loyola University’s Roussel Performance Hall. The entirely improvised show will feature three stalwarts of the local creative music scene—drummer Alvin Fielder, bassist James Singleton, and trombonist Jeff Albert.

Prior to the performance, Albert, a professor of music at Loyola, will interview Vandermark. The show and the interview are free!

Tuesday at 12:30 PM in Room 240 of Loyola’s Communication/Music Complex, Vandermark will present a talk entitled, “The Move Toward Abstraction: an examination of the development of extended techniques in improvised music.”

Tuesday night, the action will move to the Blue Nile Balcony Room. Vandermark will perform for the Open Ears Music Series. The first set will be solo improvisations and the second set will be an improvised trio with Helen Gillet (cello) and Marcello Bennetti (drums).

This is a rare chance for local music lovers to hear one of the truly great improvisers of our time. While creative, improvised music is often derided for its lack of groove, Vandermark has cited the Meters, especially drummer Zigaboo Modeliste, as an influence. Also, serious improvisers are always influenced by the set and setting in which they are performing. So I expect some of the “New Orleans effect” will come out during these performances.

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