Although the DKV Trio’s stunning musical telepathy often belies the fact, none of reedist Ken Vandermark’s regular groups play with the more all-out freedom. Flanked by bassist Kent Kessler and percussionist Hamid Drake, this is a power trio with a capital “P,” and fueled by a sublime level of intuition and empathy the group turns straw into gold with alarming frequency. This ace rhythm section gives Vandermark plenty to work with; even amid complete chaos Drake has an almost divine sense of pulse, finding grooves where none should exist, and the woody, full-bodied heft of Kessler’s bass playing provides both an unobtrusive feeling of gravity and an extra rhythmic kick. By whatever alchemical process, this musical combination blurs that old line between improvisation and composition: well-formed, indelible licks appear out of thin air to propel each performance forward like a raft on white water.
Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.