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Tripleplay: Gambit

If you can get past tenor saxophonist Ken Vandermark’s stilted sense of swing-which occasionally makes him sound less like Pres and more like a certain former president-there’s a lot to like about Tripleplay’s Gambit (Clean Feed). Tripleplay is V-Mark’s trio with his Boston buddies drummer Curt Newton and bassist Nate McBride. It’s a good group. McBride’s sound is large, and he provides a deep foundation, yet has more than enough chops to fill the dead spots bound to occur in a trio context. Newton specializes in stretching the beat without breaking it; on “Rastro 5,” for instance, he implies the pulse while beating it all to hell in a variety of ingenious ways. Aside from his shortcomings in terms of feel, Vandermark is an inventive player and composer. These East Coast guys tend to be subtler than V’s usual Chicago cohorts; they seem to bring out more of his gentle side without stifling his wild-and-craziness.

Originally Published