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Ken Vandermark: Furniture Music

The title of Ken Vandermark’s first solo CD, Furniture Music (OkkaDisk), is derived from an Erik Satie quote, advocating music that incorporates and reflects the environment in which it is created. Given the saxophonist/clarinetist’s fealty to this spirit, 21st Century Parlor Music would be an apt subtitle, as 13 of the album’s 18 tracks were recorded in his Chicago living room. Accordingly, there are tracks that are as breezy as short phone chats, while others have the fierce focus of a set of one-handed pushups. Though there is plenty of material that buttresses Vandermark’s standing as a neo-tough tenor and a space-sensitive clarinetist, the album fleshes out his more rarely vented versatility on baritone saxophone, which spans the Brštzmann-like brawn of “Horizontal Weight” and the percolating, Tristano-inspired “Lines.” The public reprise of five tracks at the end of the album provides some interesting contrasts, particularly on the aching tenor dirge “Would a Proud Man Rather Break Than Bend.”

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