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The Vandermark 5: The Color of Memory

Ken Vandermark hasn’t been shy about documenting his projects-least of all his longstanding quintet, the Vandermark 5. Hardcore fans have surely snatched up the V5’s recent 12-CD box, Alchemia (or at least thought about it). With this double-disc release, Vandermark returns to a more modest scale, relatively speaking. The Color of Memory also marks the final recording of an original V5 member, the trombonist Jeb Bishop. (Cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm replaced Bishop in the summer of ’05).

The Color of Memory is in many ways a typical V5 outing. As with past efforts, Vandermark’s canny structures, filled with dramatic pauses and creative counterpoint, ably showcase the band’s brawny bop-to-free solos. The recording’s opener, “That Was Now,” sets the tone with a driving beat, a raw, sandpapery sound and plenty of solo space. If anything marks this release, it’s Vandermark’s use of West Coast cool-school-inspired arrangement. He’s delved into this before, but it’s very pronounced here. Sudden bursts of swing and harmony enliven the hard-driving “Vehicle,” which opens the second disc. The band embraces breezy swing completely on the mellow “Chance.”

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